Chaos in Lok Sabha as Sena MPs surround aviation minister, threaten to stop Mumbai flights
Amid ruckus over airlines barring Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad from flying, Lok Sabha witnessed utter chaos as Sena members gheraoed Civil Aviation Minister after he refused to accept their demand of revoking the ban and threatened to ground all Mumbai flights.
The rest of the house watched in shock as Sena MPs, including Anant Geete, hit Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju’s bench in anger and did not let him leave.
The members shouted “won’t let airlines fly from Mumbai” while charging at Raju, news agency ANI reported quoting sources.
Following which, several leaders, including Home Minister Rajnath Singh, tried to placate Geete and his colleagues while Raju was ushered out.
The incident took place after the House was adjourned as Sena members created a ruckus, protesting Raju’s response to Gaikwad’s statement. Gaikwad attended the House for the first time after the incident.
They were upset with Raju’s remarks following Gaikwad’s statement in which the Sena MP denied any wrongdoing on his part and instead accused Air India officials of misbehaving with him and sought action against them, especially the airline’s CMD.
He tendered an apology to Parliament but insisted that he owed no apology to the airline officials as he sought removal of the ban imposed on him by domestic airlines after he allegedly beat up an Air India officer with slippers.
“I apologise for my behavior, but I am not apologetic to the airline official who abused and manhandled me, and spoke in a derogatory manner about parliamentarians and the Prime Minister,” Gaikwad said.
While the MP was seen playing the victim card in Lok Sabha today, he had boasted about assaulting the staffer earlier.
In response, Raju said it was up to Gaikwad to decide if he wanted to defuse the matter or aggravate it, asserting that what has happened is as per the law which will take its own course.
Refusing any preferential treatment to the Sena member, he said the matter was not about an MP but a passenger.
“Aircraft is a machine where people fly. Safety is important. Safety cannot be compromised,” Raju said, apparently justifying the ban on Gaikwad.
He also reiterated that airlines have been empowered to deny boarding to any passenger whose demeanour was improper.
Raju’s reply provoked the agitating Sena members who trooped out of their seats and surrounded Raju’s seat in the front row.
Before Raju spoke, Geete too joined his colleagues in condemning the action against Gaikwad and appeared to be taking a dig at the central government, saying it is a people’s government but the one-sided decision was “shameful and tragic”.
Raju sat quietly as Sena members, including Geete, shouted at him in anger.
After several adjournments, the Home Minister tried to defuse the crisis by telling the House that the Civil Aviation Minister will talk to “all stakeholders to reach an amicable solution”. Both Raju and Geete were present in the House when the statement was made.
Meanwhile, an NDTV report has claimed that the airlines will be persuaded to lift the ban on Gaikwad today evening. In the interim, Air India plans to tighten security at Mumbai and Pune in the wake of threat by Shiv Sena to stall its operations.
Apart from grounding flights, the Sena has also threatened to boycott the NDA meeting scheduled for April 10 if the flying ban issue is not resolved by then.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut, alleging that its leader was being unfairly targeted, was quoted saying, “Rapists, terrorists and even Kashmiri separatists can travel in aeroplanes but not Gaikwad.”
“We will soon expose who is responsible behind this episode,” Raut added.
With agency inputs