Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad had boasted that he hit an airline employee 25 times with his slipper.
Ravindra Gaikwad, who argued in parliament against a ban imposed on him by all airlines, today told NDTV that he plans to take the Rajdhani back to Mumbai tomorrow because "I am an aam aadmi
". Mr Gaikwad's statement is entirely at odds with his recent behaviour, which included him venting his frustration over flying economy by thrashing an Air India manager, predicated on his status as a Member of parliament and VVIP.
On March 23, right after the assault, the Shiv Sena MP boasted to reporters that he had hit the 60-year-old man with his slipper 25 times. Airlines backed the national carrier in refusing to fly the politician. Ravindra Gaikwad's tickets were cancelled four times, according to airlines, though he says that's an exaggeration. Infuriated by the retribution, the Shiv Sena
, playing to type, delivered warnings and threats.
Ravindra Gaikwad then made an impassioned speech in parliament in which he compared himself to Mahatma Gandhi and claimed that the Air India manager provoked him by mocking MPs in general and taunting him in particular, before giving him a shove. The Sena claims to have this on video, though it has yet to release this footage. In his complaint, the Air India employee has said the politician was so brute that his glasses were smashed and the buttons ripped from his shirt.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju made it clear in response that MP or not, passenger safety could not be compromised, a statement so audacious for the Sena's sensibility that its minister, Anant Geete, rushed towards the minister, who had to be rushed out of the Lok Sabha for his own security.
But a letter in which Mr Gaikwad shared his "regrets for the unfortunate incident" was deemed sufficient by the Civil Aviation Ministry to order the ban be revoked
. Mr Gaikwad made it clear that he would not apologise to the victim of his fury, who had tried to explain that the minister could not be accommodated on a business class seat because the flight he was on was all-economy.
Mr Gaikwad says that he is now helping other passengers who share his name to counter unnecessary scrutiny by wary airlines by giving them certificates declaring they are, in fact, not a vengeful politician.