Air India is in no mood to relent as the airline has, for the second time in less than a week, refused to fly Ravindra Gaikwad, a Shiv Sena parliamentarian, who assaulted an airline manager last week, bragging, "I hit him with my slipper 25 times."
The Sena has objected to a ban on Gaikwad declared by an industry association of airlines after his assault on Sukumar Raman, a 60-year-old manager with Air India, provoked by his unhappiness about flying economy despite holding a business class ticket.
Air India has pointed out it didn't have an option -the Pune-Delhi flight that Gaikwad opted for does not have a business section, a fact that it says the MP's office was alerted to.
The Sena has said it is Air India who must introspect over its "poor service". Other parties have agreed that a "blanket ban" on the punch-throwing MP is going too far. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has said the government should find a solution that allows Gaikwad in the air, claiming that sometimes, MPs need to travel by plane to get to work (parliament).
After Gaikwad told reporters in Delhi last week that he felt no contrition for his actions- the manager says the politician broke his glasses and tried to push him off the stairwell used to disembark passengers - his ticket back to Mumbai was invalidated first by Air India and then by private carrier Indigo.
The Sena leader then boarded a train to Mumbai, but disembarked earlier than his destination, reportedly to avoid media attention.