MUMBAI: Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, who had thrashed a 60-year-old Air India officer with his sandals on March 23, met party president Uddhav Thackeray today and explained his position over the issue.
The brief meeting, which lasted for about 10 minutes at Shiv Sena’s central office at Dadar here, came after Air India and other airlines lifted the flying ban on Gaikwad after he expressed regret for assaulting the AI employee.
Neither Thackeray nor Gaikwad disclosed to reporters what transpired in the meeting. However, party sources said Gaikwad explained his position over the whole controversy.
However, a source close to Uddhav Thackeray who was present during the meeting said Uddhav gave Gaikwad a piece of his mind after listening to his side of the story.
This is evident from the fact that our party president Shri Uddhavji had refused to meet Gaikwad until the matter was sorted out, the source said, adding that Uddhav was not in favor of Gaikwad’s handling of the matter and wanted him to apologize to the Air India worker who is also a senior citizen.
“You have portrayed the Shiv Sena in bad light. The Shiv Sena raises its hands (sic) on issues that concern the society at large and issues that concern public justice. This was a personal issue and you should have kept your cool,” Uddhav is believed to have told Gaikwad, giving him a stern warning not to repeat the mistake or the party will be forced to issue a public statement against him.
Gaikwad, the MP from Osmanabad, arrived here by the Rajdhani Express this morning after attending parliament proceedings earlier this week.
The lawmaker boarded the train from Delhi last evening after the flying ban was lifted by the national carrier following his letter to Union civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Thursday in which he expressed “regret” over the “unfortunate incident”.
Though Shiv Sena MPs supported Gaikwad in the house, Uddhav Thackery was personally against his behaviour as he did not want the Shiv Sena to be seen as a party of hooligans and goondas, giving the BJP the upper hand in the matter.
It is learnt that Thackeray did not entertain Gaikwad for even a minute more than was required and the MP was told to “control his anger” in future.
After Air India, the Federation of Indian Airlines, comprising four leading private carriers, today revoked the flying ban on Gaikwad.
Jet Airways, SpiceJet, GoAir and IndiGo make up the grouping.
In a statement, the FIA said its members are restoring the flying privileges to Gaikwad “under the assurance that our assets and colleagues shall be accorded the respect that they deserve for the hard work that they put in every day”.
The decision has been taken consequent to Air India restoring flying privileges to Gaikwad after being satisfied with the statement given by him in the Lok Sabha where he expressed “regret” for assaulting an Air India staffer.
On March 24, Air India barred Gaikwad from flying with it after the incident at the Delhi airport. Subsequently, the FIA barred the Lok Sabha member from flying.
On Friday, sources had said the civil aviation ministry asked Air India as well as other airlines to lift the ban imposed on Gaikwad citing the “undertaking of good conduct” given by him.
The 56-year-old Parliamentarian had assaulted AI employee R Sukumar on March 23 after he landed in Delhi on a Pune-Delhi all-economy flight.