- Shiv Sena's Ravindra Gaikwad banned by airlines after assaulting manager
- Was shoved by Air India manager, what wrong did I do: Gaikwad
- Civil Aviation Minister reprimands him, says safety is essential
Late last month, Mr Gaikwad said he hit the manager "25 times" with his slipper after flying Air India from Pune to Delhi. Airlines responded by refusing to fly him; four tickets that he booked were cancelled by carriers; Air India has filed two criminal cases against him.
"What wrong did I do? What is my crime?" asked Mr Gaikwad, stressing that he is a school teacher by training and that Vinamrata (humility) is his nature.
Mr Gaikwad said that the media has presented a lopsided version of events. The manager he beat up has said that the MP refused to exit the plane for nearly an hour, keeping more than 100 passengers waiting for their next flight.
The MP wanted to know why he flew economy despite booking a business-class journey. The manager and other officials reportedly explained that the entire plane was operated as an economy-only flight - after which, Mr Gaikwad let loose.
Today, he repeated what his party has said earlier on his behalf: that the 60-year-old manager shoved him and provoked him with insults like "Who do you think you are? Narendra Modi?"
Mr Gaikwad said he "peacefully" asked for a complaints book in which he could enter his objections, but was treated with disrespect and then "grabbed by the collar."
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju told parliament that safety cannot be compromised - an unsubtle reprimand for the the Sena, which has warned that "it will not sit quietly" if an explanation is not provided by Mr Raju's department for the complaint of poor service made by Mr Gaikwad; the party - and others - have also objected to a blanket ban on the MP by carriers.
"I apologise for my behavior, but I am not apologetic to the airline official who abused and manhandled me, and spoke in a derogatory manner about parliamentarians and the prime minister," said Mr Gaikwad. "This behavior was unacceptable... It was only after he insulted the PM and the Parliament that I got upset and hit him. Only that clip was shown to the public," he said of a video that has served as incriminating evidence against him. The Sena says it has another video which shows its man was the wronged party, but has yet to share that footage.