Shiv Sena MP Anant Geete charged at Aviation Minister in Lok Sabha over MP banned by airlines
In unprecedented scenes in parliament today, a Shiv Sena lawmaker went charging at Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, who had firmly refused to intervene on the flying ban on Ravindra Gaikwad for assaulting an airline manager, saying the law would take its course.
Ministers were seen shielding Mr Raju in the Lok Sabha as Anant Geete and other Sena MPs surrounded him.
"No flight will take off from Mumbai," Mr Geete was heard shouting repeatedly at the aviation minister, who was escorted out of the house by the BJP's SS Ahluwalia.
The row rapidly escalated just moments after Ravindra Gaikwad presented his version of the Air India incident in parliament and said he had only shoved the employee when he insulted MPs. "I apologise for my behavior but not to the Air India official who abused and manhandled me," Mr Gaikwad said as his party demanded that the ban on him cancelled.
Mr Gaikwad also submitted video clips to support his claim that he only reacted when provoked.
The minister, however, said: "The law should take its course. Aircraft are machines where people fly and safety is important. Safety will not be compromised."
Protests erupted within seconds and the Speaker adjourned the house.
During the break, agitated Sena MPs started chanting slogans against the minister.
When Mr Geete kept shouting at Mr Raju, other ministers felt the situation getting out of hand and rushed to shield the minister. Earlier, Mr Gaikwad had said: "What is my crime that I am being subjected to a media trial by fire?"
He said he lost his temper when the manager spoke derogatorily of MPs and said, "So what if you are an MP? Are you Narendra Modi?"
The Sena has alleged a breach of the MP's privilege, as he has been barred not just by the national carrier but even private airlines.
Last month, Mr Gaikwad, the Sena's MP from Osmanabad in Maharashtra, flew on Air India from Pune to Delhi, then refused to leave the plane for an hour while he demanded an explanation for not being given a business class seat.
The airline's explanation that his flight was all-economy didn't convince him. When a 60-year-old manager arrived to persuade him to leave the plane, the MP assaulted him. He later bragged to the media about "hitting him 25 times with a slipper", which led to several airlines refusing to fly him.
Over the past few days, the parliamentarian has repeatedly tried to book himself on flights but failed every time, which left him with options like taking the train or driving to Delhi by road.