In India we choose our leaders to represent us in national parliament, state assemblies and local governments. Our leaders, we thought, are expected to fight for our cause and protect our interest. Increasingly, our political parties have become familiy enterprises. Politicians try to look after their own first by giving election ticket to their kith and kin. Those relatives that cannot be elected, get nominated to posts that control flow of funds. Our leaders and their family treat government resources as their own. Some take family members to foreign junket along with official tour. Many avail first class and business class ticket in government run airlines. Many do not allow an aircraft to wait for our leaders to arrive and board. Government run ventures are increasingly being misused by elected representatives and their non elected family members, such that many ventures have become non viable commercially.
One instance of such flagrant violation of authority and power came to light when an elected member of parliament (MP) from Shiv Sena beat up a senior functionary of Air India with his sandal. The MP far from being repentant, bragged that he had hit the employee 25 times and he was going to push the officer down from the aircraft. The event was caught on camera. Many TV channels had run the footage.
Exact cause that agitated the honourable member of parliament is not known. It is rumoured that the MP was angry that he did not get a business class ticket. Which was an entitlement for our elected representatives. The facts, however, were
- the flight was an all economy flight.
- MP was seated in the front row with a lot of leg room.
- According to airline, MPs office was informed two days in advance, that the flight will not have any business class section.
- MP decided to avail the flight, he refused to get down after arriving at the destination.
An air hostess of Air India has said that Mr. Gaikwad was courteous with the staff. But he refused to get off the plane without seeing an appropriate authority. MP demanded to see CMD of the airline while being seated on the aircraft. He felt it was below his dignity to talk to station manager of the airline. Meanwhile, airline officials were in a difficult situation. They had paying passengers waiting to board. If aircraft does not get ready and flyout on time, it may have to pay penalty as well as it risks its reputation for being not on time. It is possible under this all round pressure arguments may be ensued.
Mr. Gaikwad may have other issues that is why he reacted the way he did. May be he felt neglected, aggrieved and insulted. Which most of us ordinary citizens feel, when we try to access our entitlements from government. Yet, Mr. Gaikwad had many options available to him:
- He could have lodged a complaint with the civil aviation minister, whom he probably meets every day;
- MP could have raised a question in parliament;
- MP could have asked CMD of the airline to meet his at his office at an appropriate time;
It is beyond understanding, why did an elected member of parliament resort to violence and beat up an officer of government and attempt to push the employee? Officer was only performing his duty as assigned to him, that is to see the plane takes off at the right time with paid customers.