The Air India sandal row is refusing to abate. The controversy is being driven by the Shiv Sena in an attempt to back its MP Ravindra Gaikwad even though he took the law into his hands to thrash a hapless Air India employee with his sandal and thereafter not just refused to apologise, but instead asked for an apology from the airline for bad service. The row has reached Parliament with Speaker Sumitra Mahajan having had to speak on it aside from the Aviation minister Gajapathi Raju. Even PM Narendra Modi’s name has been used in the controversy by the MP – he said he will take his complaint against Air India to the prime minister. Not just that, the party has even said that the situation is ‘dangerous’ and that ‘they may ban PM one day’, according to Times Now. Sena wants the airlines to take its MP off the ‘no-fly’ list as the decision is arbitrary.
The row has led to as many as 6 Indian airlines virtually banning Gaikwad from their flights and to reach Delhi to attend Parliament, the MP had to take to roads – he reportedly used a car to travel from Maharashtra to the national capital. However, reports now say that the MP has been asked not to attend Parliament till the issue is resolved. During the entire controversy, Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray has refused to comment, preferring his Lieutenants to do all the defending.
The Shiv Sena has trotted out its big guns to defend Gaikwad. Speaking on the subject today was senior leader Sanjay Raut who virtually tagged the airlines as bullies. He said, “Behavior of airline companies is like mafia goons.” The Sena wants all the airlines to revoke their ban on the MP. However, he refused to say anything more on the prospect of Shiv Sena taking a second look at the case or ramping down its open challenge to the political system by saying, “Will know for sure who did what when the inquiry is over” (Jaanch puri ho tab pata chalega kisne kya kiya).
Earlier in the morning, a Shiv Sena MP expressed his frustration at the way the case has been allowed to fester. MP Anandrao Adsul gave a succinct reply on his party defending their MP Ravindra Gaikwad. He said, “Can’t leave him in the middle of the road. Have to defend him.” (Ab kya chor dein raaste pe, kar rahe hain defend).