The assault by a Shiv Sena member of Parliament, Ravindra Gaikwad, of an Air India staffer Sukumar and his refusal to apologise for hitting him repeatedly with his slippers was an unpardonable act for which the MP must be punished severely. That not only Air India but four other airlines that form part of the Federation of Indian Airlines – IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir – have decided to ban the unruly MP from flying on their aircraft is appropriate and deserves full support. Gaikwad dared the Delhi police to arrest him and expressed confidence that his party would settle things. The assault was over seating arrangement in the aircraft. Since there was no Business Class on the flight he was advised to sit in Economy class or to take another flight in which Business Class was available. That infuriated the MP.
Gaikwad has had a history of flying into a rage and indulging in acts of aggression. He has seven cases registered against him, including that of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. He was also involved in the infamous incident at the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi when he was among 11 Shiv Sena MPs who forced a Muslim worker to break his Ramzan fast by ramming food down his throat. The MPs were complaining of poor quality ‘chapati.’ No action was taken by the Shiv Sena high command against him for that incident. Gaikwad was deemed useful to the party because in the 2014 Lok Sabha election he defeated Padamsinh Patil, a powerful NCP leader. In the current case of gross misbehaviour he has been summoned to Mumbai by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. Whether Uddhav will act against him at all remains to be seen but surely the police must not be forced to withdraw the two FIRs filed against him for the shameful assault.