We have constituted a team to probe the whole incident, Air India spokesperson says.
- Ravindra Gaikwad was annoyed as he didn’t get to travel in the business class
- The Sena MP removed his footwear and kept on hitting the Air India duty manager, said an airline source
- Gaikwad said he won’t move till AI chairman and managing director come and tender their apology
Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad
“The MP removed his footwear and kept on hitting the AI duty manager. He must have assaulted the AI official about 15-17 times,” said an airline source. An Air India spokesperson confirmed the incident. “We have constituted a committee to look into the action we can take against the MP,” the spokesperson added. Speaking to news channels, a defiant Gaikwad said that he hit the AI official 25 times with his chappals.
According to sources, Gaikwad was peeved that he didn’t get to travel in the business class. “He had booked an open ticket on the Pune-Delhi flight AI-852. But the aircraft which was pulled in to operate the flight had an all-economy configuration. Gaikwad’s staff in Delhi were informed about this on Wednesday. They decided to go ahead and said that the politician would board the flight,” said an AI official.
Accordingly, Gaikwad boarded the flight, took an economy class seat and reached Delhi. However he refused to disembark. He demanded that the “mantri” and AI chairman and managing director apologise to him. “He said he won’t move till they come and tender their apology,” said a source.
The airline’s duty manager went to the aircraft to pacify the MP. “He apologised for the inconvenience he had to go through in the economy-class. He was requesting him to deboard when the angry MP started abusing him and slapping him with his footwear. He hit him again and again several times,” said the source.
The MP later told the media that he had indeed beaten up the staffer with his slippers. “I am not a BJP MP. I am a Shiv Sena MP and will not tolerate any insult. Let the employee complain. I will complain to the Speaker and other authorities,” he told TV channel
The AI management has called for a report on the VVIP high handedness and will then decide on the action to be taken. While AI employees want strict action against Gaikwad, sources fear that since the MP belongs to an alliance partner (Shiv Sena), political pressure may tie the state-owned Maharaja’s hands.
This is not the first time that elected representatives have misbehaved with AI staff. In November 2015, a Congress MP had slapped an AI station+ manager at Tirupati airport for refusing to accept him and his relatives on a flight for which boarding had been closed. The MP and his entourage had reached the Tirupati airport 20 to 25 minutes before flight departure time while boarding counters for domestic flights close 45 minutes before departure time.
And before this, a Bihar politician had misbehaved+ with an air hostess of a private airlines. The air hostess did not file a complaint against the MP, whose spouse is also an MP, with the police and just gave her complaint to the airline. The private airline did not act on that as it said the employee must file a complaint with the police.