The Shiv Sena had threatened to disrupt Air India operations in Mumbai and Pune if the ban were not lifted.
New Delhi: After being told to do so by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Air India lifted its two-week ban on Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad.
Gaikwad had been banned from flying by the airline after he allegedly assaulted a 60-year-old employee after a disagreement over seating on a flight. The MP was caught on video bragging that he “hit him (the Air India employee) 25 times with my sandal”.
Gaikwad was also declared persona non grata by almost all major domestic airlines, and his tickets were reportedly cancelled seven times in the last two weeks.
On Thursday, the MP apologised for the incident in the Lok Sabha. Meanwhile, Shiv Sena threatened to disrupt Air India operations in Mumbai and Pune, and forced repeated adjournment of the House over the issue. Party members also said they would boycott the April 10 meeting of the NDA if the ban was not lifted, Firstpost reported.
Minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha on Thursday met with Ashwani Lohani of Air India to discuss the issue, according to India Today. After the meeting Gaikwad wrote a letter to civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, apologising and asking that the ban be lifted.
On receiving Gaikwad’s letter, the ministry told Air India to revoke the ban on the MP. The ban was then lifted on Friday, despite the All India Cabin Crew Association saying that Gaikwad continued to be a flight risk and demanding that the ban stay in place.
“Gaikwad apologised to the ministry and accordingly we got the directive to withdraw the ban,” an Air India spokesperson said at a press conference on Friday. The airline later added that there was “no government pressure”.
People on Twitter are unhappy with the government’s support for the MP despite the video where he is bragging about the attack. They have suggested that the government is more interested in appeasing o the Shiv Sena and protecting those in power, not in standing up for government employees and citizens.