Gaikwad fly-ban: Speaker pitches for an amicable resolution

27 Mar 2017

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan today pitched for an amicable resolution of the issue involving domestic airlines' blanket ban on Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad. Though she did not categorically call for the lifting of the fly-ban on Gaikwad, who had assaulted an Air India staffer last week, she said MPs need to attend Parliament and they cannot always travel by train. "MPs need to attend Parliament and they cannot travel by train always. At times, they need to travel by plane also. I feel that this issue (blanket ban) should be resolved amicably through talks," she said. Mahajan, however, said that she was not the one to pass a judgement but was trying to help resolve the issue as the agitating MPs have sought help from her as she was the Speaker. "I am playing the role of 'tai' (elder sister). As of now, everybody is angry. It is time to calm down and resolve the issue. How the ban could be lifted needs to be discussed and resolved amicably," she told reporters after a meeting attended by Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Sena MPs. After Air India put him on the no-fly list, the Federation of Indian Airlines, which has Jet Airways, SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir as its members, also imposed a ban on Gaikwad from flying on their network. The airlines' move came after the MP had last week assaulted 62-year-old duty manager of Air India R Sukumar with slippers over not being able to fly business class despite having boarded an all-economy flight. After the ban, Gaikwad had to travel by train from Delhi to Maharashtra. Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant, after the meeting, said, "All airlines have come together banning him (Gaikwad), but it is our fundamental right (to travel by air)."  Mahajan said the MPs, so far, have not given notice of a privilege motion. Such a notice can be given by any member of either House of a state legislature or Parliament against anyone who is accused of breach of privilege.This privilege provides certain rights and immunities to MPs, MLAs and MLCs. Earlier, the row over Gaikwad assaulting an Air India employee today raged both within and outside Parliament, prompting Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to suggest an amicable resolution of the issue . Shiv Sena MPs denounced the blanket ban imposed on Gaikwad by domestic airlines which, they claimed, violated the Constitution and the law. They demanded that the ban be lifted, but did not get any assurance from the government, with Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapati Raju saying violence of any kind on an aircraft could prove disastrous. Osmanabad, Gaikwad's parliamentary constituency, meanwhile, observed a bandh to protest against his "humiliation" as the MP stayed put at some undisclosed location. He said he has been asked by the Sena leadership to "keep quiet". The assault on Air India duty officer R Sukumar on Thursday resonated in the Lok Sabha with Shiv Sena MPs demanding revocation of the ban. Members of the Shiv Sena, a partner in the ruling NDA dispensation, created uproar in the House and engaged in a verbal duel with Congress MPs who criticised Gaikwad for his action. The party's leader in the house Anandrao Adsul claimed the ban violated the Constitution and the law. Raju, however, condemned Gaikwad's conduct, saying "I never in my wildest dreams thought that an MP will get caught in such an incident."  He said aviation regulator DGCA had framed safety guidelines after an earlier incident of violence by an MP against an airline staffer last year and those were invoked in the case of Gaikwad, who has been barred from flying all major airlines. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan later called a meeting of Sena MPs with Raju after which she pitched for an "amicable resolution" to the issue, while steering clear of taking any sides. (PTI)