Will Ashok Quit In Protest Against ‘Near Assault’ By Shiv Sena MPs?
Hyderabad: Will Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju, belonging to Telugu Desam, resign in protest from the Narendra Modi-led NDA Government for the humiliation and near assault faced by him from Shiv Sena members in the Lok Sabha on Thursday when the issue of Air India putting Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad on the “no fly list” for assaulting an airlines official recently rocked the House?
This question has become a hot topic for discussion in political circles in Andhra Pradesh after the “shabby treatment” meted out to the Civil Aviation Minister who was virtually gheraoed in Parliament by agitated Shiv Sena members.
It might be recalled here that the Shiv Sena MP from Maharashtra, Ravindra Gaikwad, had by his own confession had “slippered” 25 times a 60-year-old Deputy Manager of Air India, Sukumar, for not providing him a business class seat in an all economy class flight on March 23.
The incident had triggered flak from all sections and almost all airlines led by Air India had decided to bar the errant MP to travel in their flights. As a result the MP could not fly in any of the flights even to attend the ongoing Parliament session.
When the issue figured in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, Ravindra Gaikwad instead of expressing remorse for his boorish behaviour tried to play the victim card and demanded that the Air India authorities should be punished for their actions for barring him from taking any flight. Surprisingly, other members supported the erring MP and the House witnessed heated arguments.
Ashok Gajapati Raju explained the circumstances which had led to this situation due to the behaviour of the MP and reminded that action of the airlines was not against an MP but against a passenger keeping in view the safety aspects.
This triggered loud protests from Shiv Sena members and some of them stormed to the place where the minister was sated and virtually gheraoed him. At one stage one member even tried raise his hand against the minister but was stopped by other MPs including the TD members who had come to his protection.
The treatment meted out to him in the House seemed to have hurt the feelings and sentiments of Ashok Gajapati Raju, the scion of Vizianagaram known for his soft spoken and humble nature. The TD MPs and also party leaders in AP were very upset over the incident in the House in which the shirt of one of them was reported to have been torn in the melee.
TD leaders condemned the incident unequivocally and even insisted that Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu, who is the national president of Telugu Desam, should take up the matter with the Prime Minister to reprimand and condemn Shiv Sena, which is also an ally like TD at the Centre.
Many TD leaders in AP were so agitated with Wednesday’s happenings in Parliament so much so that they wanted Naidu to not only recall Ashok Gajapati Raju in protest but also sever its ties with the BJP.
However, the big question is whether Naidu takes such a bold decision of severing his ties with BJP keeping in view the 2019 elections. As a matter of fact, political circles feel that he would rather ignore the humiliation meted out to his party’s Union minister rather than cross swords or antagonise the BJP leadership. However, pressure seems to be mounting on the TD leadership not to treat the issue casually.
What seems to have hurt Ashok Gajapati Raju more is that the Lok Sabha Speaker too had not come to his rescue when the Shiv Sena MPs had surrounded and virtually assaulted him.
Knowing the sensitive nature of the TD member, some feel that it should not come as a surprise if he puts in his paper in protest whether Naidu acts or not. Thus all eyes would be focussed on Naidu as to what action he would take in not only appeasing his party MP but at the same time not antagonise the BJP leadership.