Flying ban on Gaikwad: Sena MPs create ruckus in Lok Sabha

NEW DELHI: An ugly situation in the Lok Sabha, where one angry minister shouted at another surrounded menacingly by the former’s party colleagues, was defused when senior Cabinet colleagues rushed to intervene and whisked both the ministers away from the House in the nick of time.
Soon after Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad spoke out against the flying ban slapped on him in the wake of his recent altercation with Air India staffers, his fellow party MP and Union minister of state for heavy industries Anant Geete rallied behind him and protested the harsh penalty imposed on Gaikwad without an inquiry. Geete demanded that the culpable homicide charge invoked against Gaikwad be withdrawn by Delhi Police and the “one-sided” decision of the civil aviation ministry to debar him from flights, reversed.
However, this did not seem to cut much ice with aviation minister Ashok Gajapathy Raju, who said that insofar as the FIR registered by the Delhi Police was concerned, “the member has written two letters to me that I have forwarded to the SHO … the law will take its own course”.
Raju was also non-committal on a possible end to the flying ban. “…Aircraft are machines in which people fly. Safety is important and it will not be compromised,” he said, drawing an immediate uproar from Sena MPs who rushed to Raju’s desk and gheraoed him while shouting slogans and menacingly thumping at his desk.
Interestingly, Trinamool leader Kalyan Ray backed Sena, asking Raju under what provisions of the law was Gaikwad being barred from flights.
Raju’s terse reply appeared to have triggered a fit of rage in Geete. He started shouting loudly, questioning the decision to punish Gaikwad without even a cursory probe. Shiv Sena MPs including Anandrao Adsul, Chandrakant Khaire and Vinayak Raut joined in to ask how safety issue could be raised against Gaikwad.
As the MPs threatened a hapless Raju to intervene to end the ban on Gaikwad, a visibly incensed Geete came too close for Raju’s comfort, Union ministers sensed trouble and rushed into the well to defuse the situation lest the two ministers came to blows. Parliamentary affairs minister and MoS S S Ahluwalia formed a human wall between Sena MPs and Raju, even as home minister Rajnath Singh persuaded Geete to calm down. Textiles minister Smriti Irani held on to Geete and tried to take him away. As Rajnath counselled Geete and MoS Jayant Sinha engaged the Shiv Sena MPs, Ahluwalia was seen whisking Raju out of the Lok Sabha. Some time later, Rajnath Singh too led Geete out of the House, holding his hand.
By this time, Speaker had adjourned the House. The House reassembled later, but had to be adjourned twice again. In between the adjournments, a visibly calm Geete reentered the House, and was complimented by fellow MPs including Mulayam Singh Yadav and Supriya Sule. Sometime later, Raju too returned to the House.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge spoke out against “a minister pushing another minister”.
When the House reassembled at 1:15pm, Rajnath Singh said the flying ban on Gaikwad was “unfortunate”. He informed the House that talks were held among Raju, Geeta and Anandrao Adsul on the issue of Gaikwad, and it was decided that Raju, in consultation with all stakeholders, would try to resolve the situation amicable and at the earliest.

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