The Shiv Sena Thursday came out to defend its Lok Sabha MP Ravindra Gaikwad who has been facing sharp criticism for hitting an Air India staffer over a sitting arrangement.
The party said that airline companies were behaving like ‘goons’ by letting terrorists take flights but imposing restrictions on the common man as it remained defiant on domestic airlines' blanket ban on its MP.
The Sena MPs, ahead of their meeting with Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on the fly ban issue on Thursday, said that dictatorship has not yet started in the country and asked whether Air India will first tender an apology to the MP as they had started misbehaving first.
"What has he (Gaikwad) done? The behaviour of the airline companies is like mafia and goons. In your companies, what is happening under your chair, you should see that. I would not say much as we are now going to meet the Lok Sabha speaker. But an FIR has been lodged against the MP. The MP has also lodged an FIR. The investigation is going on," party leader Sanjay Raut told reporters outside the Parliament.
Asked whether there should be a fly ban on Gaikwad, he said, "There should not be a fly ban on him. Is he a terrorist? Terrorists, underworld dons, corrupt people can fly in your airlines, but an MP, who is a common man, he would not fly.”
"And moreover, the FIR has been lodged and the investigation is not yet complete. Who has done what, it will only be clear after the completion of the investigation. In this country, till now, dictatorship has not yet started. If they are doing it under pressure from someone, this pressure will also not work for long," he said.
State carrier Air India had recently barred Gaikwad, who had allegedly assaulted its staffer, from its flights and even cancelled his return ticket to Pune from Delhi.
Raut said that during the meeting, the MPs will tell the Speaker that democracy is still there in this country and if such dictatorship continues, "There will be one day, when these airlines will ground the Prime Minister as well as the Lok Sabha Speaker."
"I will not speak much now. I will open up facts about the misdeeds (kala chitta kholunga) of these airline company owners. Who has relationship with whom in Dubai, Pakistan, whose money is travelling from one destination to the other, I will come out with it," he said.
Asked whether Gaikwad should apologise, Raut said, "Will Air India apologise? Let them start. Who started misbehaviour first. The airline company started it."
Another party MP Shivaji Patil said that the inquiry should be conducted "freely and fairly" to determine who is at fault, whether Air India staff or the MP.
"We do not want to shield anybody," he said before going into the meeting.
Asked about his meeting with Jayant Sinha earlier, the MP said, "He (Sinha) has assured that he will try his best to lift the ban particularly for the member to attend the Parliament proceedings. He told us that efforts were on to find out a way out of the situation. The party has not asked Gaikwad to stay away from Parliament."
Another MP Shrirang Barne said that the statements of both the sides should be heard as a case has been lodged on the issue.
"I will not support the mistake which Gaikwad did, but being an MP, he too has some right," he said.
With PTI Inputs