The Shiv Sena on Thursday, April 6, tried out several strong-arm tactics in Parliament to build political pressure on national carrier Air India and other airlines to rescind their ban on Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad. Meanwhile, Gaikwad himself tried to play the victim card, claiming he was being given a media trial.
Gaikwad is accused of hitting an Air India (AI) official and holding a flight hostage for several minutes after he was reportedly not upgraded from economy class to business class in the flight. He has been barred from all flights ever since, and also been booked for assault in the case. On Thursday, the Shiv Sena used three tactics in the Lok Sabha to get himself off the hook, but all three are destined to fail.
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Tactic 1: Gaikwad tried to claim that he had not committed any crime. He asked: "What have I done wrong? What is the crime for which a media trial is being conducted against me?" He went on to add: "I apologise to the Parliament if I've caused any hurt, but not to the Air India official."
Why it will fail: The victim card Gaikwad is playing now is much too late, especially after he dug his own grave by bragging on camera that he had not only hit the AI official 25 times with his footwear, but also that he had held up the aircraft after it landed.
Tactic 2: Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the house after Gaikwad's statement, but instead of moving out, several Shiv Sena MLAs rushed towards Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju. Primary among them was Sena MP Anant Geete. They were later placated by the likes of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. After the fracas, AI sources said they had been instructed to increase security across airports.
Why it will fail: The moment a government falls prey to strong-arm tactics is when parties both in the coalition and the Opposition score a moral win and manage to show the ruling party in weaker light. No ruling party will let that happen. Talks of "amicable solution" will of course be there, but never a downright submission to demands.
Tactic 3: As the civil aviation minister was being swamped in the Lok Sabha, someone from the Shiv Sena ranks reportedly shouted that they "won't let airlines fly from Mumbai" if the flying ban on Gaikwad was not rescinded.
Why it will fail: This is just a bullying tactic — one whose failure is comprehensible to even a Neanderthal. It would be political suicide if the Shiv Sena took a step like this that inconveniences people. The political mood in Maharashtra — and especially in Mumbai, is changing towards the BJP, as was seen in the BMC polls recently. If the Sena indeed stopped flights from taking off from Mumbai, the resulting public backlash would be tsunami-like.