Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, who assaulted R Sukumar, a 60-year-old Air India employee on a Pune-New Delhi flight on Thursday and later boasted about it, received a “dressing down” from party chief Uddhav Thackeray, senior Shiv Sena leaders said on Friday.
“We have taken serious note of the incident. Uddhav Thackeray spoke to him and gave him a dressing down,” Anil Desai, Rajya Sabha MP, told HT. Earlier on Friday, Gaikwad met with Desai in New Delhi and updated him on the details of Thursday’s incident.
The dressing down from Thackeray could be the extent of the party’s action against Gaikwad. Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said that Thackeray hadn’t summoned the MP for disciplinary action and that he didn’t in fact need to be disciplined.
Raut said, “Firstly, he has not been summoned by the party chief. This is not a matter that calls for disciplinary action. Ravi is an educated person. He has been an MLA for many years and is now an MP. He has been travelling in planes for many years now and this is the first time such an incident has happened. The matter should be probed from both sides.”
Raut said the party did not plan to take any action against Gaikwad. “Let the law take its own course. But an FIR should also be filed against Air India,” he said.
Desai said that the party did not endorse such behaviour. “Restraint should be exercised by everybody, whether he is a politician or a common man. Politicians especially should exercise more control.”
Gaikwad bragged that he had hit the Air India staffer “25 times” with his slipper during a row over seat allocation. The Member of Parliament told crew members that he had a business-class ticket for the flight and became belligerent when informed that Air India had changed it to an all-economy flight.
Gaikwad has so far refused to apologise for the assault or accept that he did anything wrong. In a video that is in wide circulation on social media, he can be seen hitting Sukumar with his slippers and trying to push him down a staircase docked with the aircraft.
Meanwhile, a first information report (FIR) has been filed against the parliamentarian in New Delhi, based on a complaint by Air India.
Gaikwad’s brazen statements seeking to justify his actions have caused major embarrassment to his party but Thackeray has so far chosen not to comment.