The Shiv Sena seems to be on a slippery slope, as it tries to control the damage done by Ravindra Gaikwad, its Member of Parliament from Osmanabad in Maharashtra.
Over the last few hours, Gaikwad has made headlines for hitting an Air India staff with his sandals — 25 times, as he proudly said on record — to vent his anger at not being given a business class seat on a flight from Pune to Delhi.
The airline claimed it doesn't have the option to book business class seats on this segment and had already informed Gaikwad about it. However, on reaching Delhi, the MP refused to leave the aircraft, deciding to go on a sit-in protest. When the official from Air India came on board to persuade him to leave the flight, the former schoolteacher lost his temper and started assaulting him. As the fiasco became public, several airlines blacklisted the rogue MP, forcing him to travel back home by train.
Following the incident, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, the party doesn't support Gaikwad's conduct. But he added a proviso.
"Hitting anybody can never be the culture of the Sena," he said, "but we will surely raise our hand wherever required." He also asked for a probe into Air India's services to understand the reason why the MP was "forced to behave" the way he did. For his part, the MP seemed to have got off with a light wrap on his knuckle from his party, which asked him to watch his behaviour in future.
This is not the first time Gaikwad has publicly committed a violent act. Earlier he was caught on camera forcing a Muslim employee to break his fast for Ramzaan at Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi.
Gaikwad's wife also joined in with her own defence. "I had never imagined my husband would be hitting somebody, like he did in Delhi," she told The Times of India. "For the first time, his violent side has been seen and that was mostly because of the rude behaviour by the airline staffers."
She added that her husband had lost his cool after Air India staffers allegedly made insulting remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
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