Govt refuses to lift flying restriction on Sena MP

Violence of any kind can be disaster, says Raju

Govt refuses to lift flying restriction on Sena MP
The Centre on Monday refused to bail out its ally the Shiv Sena, which created an uproar in the Lok Sabha and sought the Speaker’s intervention to lift the ban on flying imposed on its MP Ravindra Gaikwad for assaulting an Air India employee.

Civil Aviation minister P Ashok Gajapati Raju said airlines were empowered since November 2014 to withdraw boarding passes of passengers indulging in unruly behaviour. The minister rejected the Shiv Sena’s contention that the Constitution did not bar people from travelling.

“Violence of any kind can be disaster in airlines... The rule is not about just an MP. In my wildest dreams, I never expected an MP to get caught in this. An MP is also a passenger. We can't have unequal treatment of people of different classes. We have to keep safety in mind, we cannot compromise,” Raju said in the House.

While throwing the party’s weight behind Gaikwad, the Shiv Sena’s leader in the Lok Sabha Anandrao Adsul accused the government of adopting double standards on the issue. In case of comedian Kapil Sharma, he said, only an inquiry was initiated for his alleged misbehaviour, while Gaikwad has been banned when Parliament is in session. He tried to seek support of other parliamentarians as he said the incident does not augur well for the government.

“All airlines have blacklisted him. If all airlines ban him, it is not good. Banning him like this is not fair. We condemn the ban. Madam Speaker, I hope you will direct the government to lift the ban,” said Adsul in defence of his party member.

The agitated NDA’s Maharashtra ally also got into a verbal duel with Congress members, who did not approve of Gaikwad physically assaulting a national carrier staffer. Disappointed at not getting a favourable reply from the civil aviation minister, Sena MPs walked into the Well of the House. Even Speaker Sumitra Mahajan did not approve of the blacklisted MP’s conduct and asked the party leaders to return to their seats and discuss the matter with the ministry.

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