Comedian Kapil Sharma's drunken episode on a flight was raised in parliament today as the Shiv Sena defended its MP Ravindra Gaikwad, banned from flying most major airlines after he assaulted an Air India official with his slipper on Thursday.
"Kapil Sharma misbehaved on a flight after getting drunk but no ban was imposed on him. Corrupt people are allowed to fly. How can an MP be banned," Sena's Anandrao Adsul questioned in the Lok Sabha.
The government asserted that "rules are the same" for all, including an MP. "Violence on a flight can be disastrous...we cannot compromise safety in airlines," Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said to the Sena, the BJP's estranged ally.
"Never...had I expected an MP to get caught in this," said Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju
Reports suggest Air India will issue a warning to comedy host Kapil Sharma, who is accused of misbehaving with co-stars, like Sunil Grover, on a flight to Mumbai from Melbourne two weeks ago. Though the brawl has been in the news over the cataclysmic impact on Mr Sharma's TV show, talk of possible action has emerged after Mr Gaikwad was banned by six airlines.
The minister said airlines are empowered to deny boarding to any passenger whose demeanour is incorrect. But "never in the wildest of dreams had I expected an MP to get caught in this," Mr Raju said.
Mr Gaikwad, the Sena's parliamentarian from Osmanabad in Maharashtra, thrashed a 60-year-old Air India Duty Manager, abused him and allegedly tried to push him down a step-ladder during an argument over a business class seat. A day later, barred by every airline, the politician was forced to take a train to Maharashtra but he got off somewhere in Gujarat to avoid the media.
Amid protests by Sena MPs in parliament, the minister said, "An MP is also a passenger. We cannot have unequal treatment of people of different classes...we cannot compromise safety in airlines."
Mr Gaikwad was not just unapologetic about his conduct, but he also bragged later about "hitting the official 25 times".