After being denied permission, twice, to fly on an Air India flight for his violent ways, Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad finally boarded the Rajdhani Express to proceed to Delhi on Tuesday afternoon.
Air India foiled two attempts by Gaikwad to book flights to Delhi with the airline for Wednesday.
The state carrier, which had grounded the MP for abusing and assaulting a 60-year-old Air India manager last week, first cancelled Gaikwad’s Mumbai-Delhi ticket and then cancelled a ticket that he had booked from Hyderabad to Delhi later in the evening.
Gaikwad had an open ticket with Air India and blocked a seat on a morning flight from Mumbai to Delhi, which was booked through the Air India call centre. When the airline realised this, they cancelled the ticket.
Not one to give up, Gaikwad then booked another ticket, this time from Hyderabad to Delhi.
However, the airline cancelled it once again. Air India officials say they are now checking the database to ascertain how many tickets Gaikwad may have booked.
“The MP had booked two tickets for Wednesday — Mumbai-Delhi and Hyderabad-Delhi — and we cancelled them,” said an Air India spokesperson.
“Now, we have issued directions to all our regional staff to check if he has booked more tickets. We will also enter his name in the online ticketing system so that whenever he tries to book a ticket, our staff gets a notification,” the official said.
According to Gaikwad’s aide, the MP decided to take the train to attend the ongoing session of the Parliament.
“Gaikwadsaheb had to attend the session and also take part in the joint meeting with the Civil Aviation Ministry on this issue. Hence it was imperative for him to be in Delhi. Since the airline was not allowing him, he had no option but to travel by train,” said the aide, on condition of anonymity. Apart from Air India, six private airlines have barred Gaikwad from travelling on them.
Gaikwad finally travelled in the Coach no A3 of Rajdhani Express, which he boarded at Mumbai Central station.
The Shiv Sena MP’s in the parliament did try to raise the issue in the parliament but were not successful in lifting the ban. Later, they met Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who asked them to resolve the issue amicably.
At Osmanabad, the Sena also observed a bandh to protest against the ban imposed by the airlines. Gaikwad has refused to apologise for his actions.