Slapgate: Ravindra Gaikwad is back in the air – business class

Two weeks after he was blacklisted and grounded by all airlines, Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad on Monday morning took wings again on a Pune-New Delhi flight, authorities said.

It was the same flight on 23 March it was the same (AI-852) which did not offer business class that day, leading Gaikwad to start a serious verbal and physical altercation with the airline staffers. The airline has now made a provision for business class on this service.

In a instance display of the arrogance of our ruling classes, Gaikwad and his party created a ruckus in parliament and outside over the issue (See: Huge ruckus in Lok Sabha over Gaikwad air travel ban), but he has never directly apologised to the airline or to the staffer he thrashed. Nonetheless, the national carrier has now accommodated him on the orders of the civil aviation ministry.

It is, of course, the poor taxpayers - most of whom can't even afford to fly - who are paying for Gaikwad's business class travel.

Reduced to train and road travel and avoiding the media glare for a few days, the Osmanabad MP took the Pune-New Delhi AI-852. The lack of a business class on that flight last month culminated in the assault of a senior official, two police complaints lodged against Gaikwad, his blacklisting, and a face-off between the two ruling BJP-led NDA constituents.

After Gaikwad tendered a letter expressing 'regret' over the incident to civil aviation minister A Gajapathi Raju, AI revoked the flying ban on Saturday, closely followed by Federation of Indian Airlines.

The government's moves came following threats that the Shiv Sena, a member of the ruling NDA, would boycott the critical meet to discuss the nominee for next President.