Beleaguered Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad is expected to attend Lok Sabha proceedings later this week where he may present his side of the story in the House about assaulting an Air India official. “Gaikwad will attend Parliament session either on Thursday or Friday,” a source close to the Shiv MP from Osmanabad told PTI. “He will first present his side of the story in the House and only then will appear before media,” the source said. Gaikwad was on March 24 barred from flying by four private Indian carriers and Air India after his brazen assault on an official of the national carrier. The source said Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had suggested to Gaikwad to keep away from media after the infamous episode.
Asked what would be Gaikwad’s stance if Thackeray were to ask him to tender an apology over the assault, the source said “going by Gaikwad’s innocence in the matter and also going by the Sena’s track record of not giving in to injustice, such a scenario appears unlikely.” Asked about the MP’s whereabouts as he has disappeared from public gaze after the assault, the source said Gaikwad is “somewhere in Maharashtra”. Meanwhile, in a statement issued today, a local Sena functionary in Osmanabad district alleged that fliers with ‘Gaikwad’ surname have been suffering due to the curbs imposed by domestic airlines on the parliamentarian. He also said that the Shiv Sena MP won’t book a flight ticket till the matter was resolved by the Parliament and his party.
“Gaikwad won’t ever book a flight ticket till the issue is resolved by the Parliament, DGCA and Shiv Sena party,” the functionary, from Gaikwad’s hometown Omerga in Osmanabad district said. “After the infamous Pune-Delhi flight, Ravi Sir (Gaikwad) booked flight tickets only three times and all were cancelled owing to the unjust curbs imposed by the airlines. The fourth and last ticket he booked was for an 8 AM flight from Mumbai to Delhi and that was also cancelled. “He did not book any ticket after that. All this talk of his being on a flight ticket booking spree is a ploy to malign him and we condemn such tactics,” he said. The tickets were booked by the Sena MP’s namesake who bore the brunt of the mistaken identity, he claimed.
“The airline companies do not have any mechanism to distinguish between the namesakes and as a result, innocent fliers are being inconvenienced,” he said. A grave injustice has been heaped on Gaikwad, who now has the “dubious distinction of being the first person to be ever grounded by scheduled Indian air carrier,” he added. The clarification came after recent reports that Gaikwad made at least four vain attempts to fly to Delhi using several permutations and combinations of the titles and initials of his names. It was also reported that Air India detected this by either cancelling the bookings or not allowing them to be made. Gaikwad has been barred from flying by domestic airlines for assaulting an Air India staffer recently.