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Shiv Sena MPs meet Speaker over flying ban on Ravindra Gaikwad

IANS | New Delhi |

Shiv Sena MPs on Thursday met Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan over the ban on party's Member of Parliament Ravindra Gaikwad, imposed by airlines since his brawl with an Air India official last week.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Shiv Sena member of the Rajya Sabha Sanjay Raut came down heavily on the airlines, accusing them of behaving like "mafia" and "dictators" and also said that the MP would apologise only if Air India tenders an apology first.

Sources, meanwhile, said that the party has asked Gaikwad not to attend the proceedings of Lok Sabha till the issue is resolved.

"Airline companies are behaving like mafias and goons. They must see what is happening under their chairs," Raut said.

"There is an FIR against the MP and the MP has also filed a counter-FIR. So far, even the probe has not been completed and they have banned him (from flying).

"Terrorists can fly in their airlines, corrupt people can fly, underworld dons can fly, but an MP — a common man — can't fly. This is a new kind of dictatorship of the airlines, or someone else," Raut said.

"If this is being done under some pressure, it will not last for long."

Asked about the meeting with the Speaker, Raut said: "We told the Speaker that this is a democracy. If there is such dictatorship, one day the airlines will even ground the Prime Minister and the Lok Sabha Speaker."

Asked if the government was being soft and supporting the airlines, the MP said: "I will not say anything right now… I will speak only when the time comes."

"I will also reveal the links of owners of airlines, which are said to have links in Dubai, Pakistan and where the money is going… all will come out."

Asked whether Gaikwad regretted his behaviour, Raut said: "Will Air India show any regret? They should start (by apologising). Who started bad behaviour? They started it. Have they descended from the sky?"

The Lok Sabha member from Osmanabad in Maharashtra, 57-year-old Gaikwad last Thursday abused and assaulted a 60-year-old Duty Manager of Air India, and hit him with a slipper because he had to travel Economy Class though he had an open Business Class ticket. The flight was an all-economy one.

Following the incident, he was banned by Air India from flying and subsequently, other private airlines also refused to fly him.

The Shiv Sena has raised the issue in the Lok Sabha and has also given notice of a privilege motion, which is presently under consideration of the Speaker.