Friday, March 24, 2017

Shiv Sena’s clout in airport unions emboldened MP Ravindra Gaikwad

Mumbai: Shiv Sena reprimanded its MP Ravindra Gaikwad on Friday for slapping an Air India official and condemned the incident, but a former party leader says the parliamentarian’s unruly behaviour could be attributed to the Sena’s influence in the airport unions.

Shiv Sena MP Anil Desai who was entrusted by party President Uddhav Thackeray to speak to Gaikwad to get his version of events told ET that parliamentarian’s act “was unbecoming of an MP”.

“He (Gaikwad) was told that this kind of behaviour was unbecoming of an MP. As a people’s representative he should have shown some restraint. You just cannot go and beat people like that. You have to show humility,” said Desai. He added, “He has been clearly told that he carries the party image and when such an incident occurs the peoples’ faith in the democracy itself is shaken. The party is very firm and he has been asked to give a reply to party President Uddhav Thackeray by tomorrow.”
Desai, however, said the Air India official’s conduct should also be investigated, to find out why the Sena MP got provoked. While the Sena pulled up its MP, there is a political context that could explain why Ravindra Gaikwad beat up the Air India official and brazenly admitted to it.
Shiv Sena has had a strong presence in the Airport unions and not just Gaikwad but even lowlevel Sena functionaries have managed to get their way simply because they belonged to the party.

“See many years ago the Sena had a strong presence in the Airport Unions. If anyone misbehaved with a Shiv Sena worker or functionary, we used to shut down not just the airline operations but the entire airport.

I believe when Gaikwad beat up the Air India official he felt that nothing would happen to him as the Sena union would not let the Airline act against him,” said Kiran Pawaskar, an old Sena hand who headed party’s Bharatiya Kamgar Sena for a long while. Pawaskar has now switched sides and joined the NCP. He heads the All India Aviation Employees Association (AIAEA).

“What Gaikwad did not know is that the Sena has almost a negligible presence in the Mumbai Airport now, which is why the airline has been able to debar him from flying. While his behaviour was reprehensible, no CMD would dare to debar a Sena functionary, that too an MP, earlier. The Sena would have never allowed it, ” he said.
25/03/17 Krishna Kumar/Economic Times