After unsuccessfully trying to book a flight ticket on various airlines for over two weeks, Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad finally flew from Pune to New Delhi by a chartered plane on Wednesday.
The aircraft, which was reportedly booked by the party leadership, took off at 3 pm and arrived in the capital two hours later. The MP is here to attend a Parliament session.
Gaikwad was blacklisted by several domestic airlines after he assaulted an Air India flight attendant with a sandal for being made to travel by economy class, instead of business. The incident, which occurred on March 23, caused a furore – with everybody from political parties to Twitter users lambasting him for thrashing the 60-year-old government employee.
The Osmanabad MP refused to apologise. Instead, he boasted of having hit the Air India official – duty manager R Sukumar – with his sandal “25 times”.
In the days that followed, he tried to book tickets in various airlines – from Air India to SpiceJet and Indigo – but was rejected on every occasion. Even attempts to secure a ticket by misspelling his name went in vain. The Centre maintained that it was within the airlines’ rights to reject a customer on grounds of misconduct.
Meanwhile, Gaikwad is supposed to lead the Shiv Sena’s offensive against Air India’s decision to blacklist him in Parliament. Sena MPs may insist that the speaker allow Gaikwad to relate his side of the story before house members, which may comprise criticism of airline officials as well as the role of the civil aviation ministry.