Editorial By- Sukhpreet Giani
It is not for the first time that an elected representative or a politician in India has been involved in an unpleasant incidence. Disrupting government services and holding the public at ransom has become a fashion statement by certain leaders in order to mark their presence! There was sufficient prima facie evidence and Delhi Police reacted fast to proceed against Shiv Sena leader Ravindra Gaikwad, who allegedly repeatedly thrashed an elderly Air India staffer with his sandal after he was allotted an economy category seat on a flight that did not have business class. Two police cases have been registered against him. As always the authorities have chickened out after doing so and Gaikwad remains a free man.
Shiv Sena leadership has sought his immediate explanation. Law makers in the both houses of the Parliament echoed to restore the rights of Giakwad, but none bothered to talk about the man who has been trashed, the plane that was made to remain at the tarmac with only Gaikwad and the crew in it.
Giakwad is a member of Lok Sabha from Osmanabad in Maharashtra and by his own admission, he hit the 60-year-old duty manager more than two dozen times with a sleeper and after which he threatened that he would take up the matter with Air India and other authorities. Meanwhile, Air India and some private airlines have banned him from travelling by their aircraft. “The poor man” as Gaikwad wanted himself to be known had to travel back to Mumbai by a train, however had to abandon the journey midway fearing apparent arrest. The Airport manager –a ground staffer for Air India had to come to the plane to request the leader to come out of the plane as the plane had to return back to Mumbai in next twenty minutes. Gaikwad had been holding his ground for over an hour and was arguing with the air hostesses.
Why political parties in India can’t rein in their nominees and instruct them to remain within their “limits” of dignity and decorum? Ask the same to any Indo Canadian, and he would cite this as one of the reasons for having moved out of India. The problem has been chronic with many politicians but the party –the Shiv Sena has always bagged limelight by assaulting people from other states in Mumbai as “outsiders”. For many years Shiv Sainiks took pride in the ideology given to it by its leader Bal Thackery. Sainiks took the law into their own hands with impunity, beating up people, vandalizing property, even digging up the pitch at Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium because Thackeray had decreed that the Pakistan cricket team should not play there. Given that the Sena has been getting away with, and even profiting from such behavior, it’s not surprising that Gaikwad was unapologetic, unashamed and even boasting that he hit the AI employee 25 times with his footwear. There is no way such behavior can be justified whatever may be the provocation.
Others who have remained in the limelight as the power has gone to their head include a former Congress MP who abused a police officer in Hyderabad because he wasn’t allowed to speak to the media at a point reserved for sitting MPs and MLAs. The incidence came just few days after the Giakwad episode. In January 2013 Maharashtra Minister and Congress leader Narayan Rane’s son Nitesh was arrested along with eight others by Goa Police for allegedly vandalizing a toll booth and attacking its staffers. In March 2014, a Samajwadi Party leader Suresh Chandra Yadav alias ‘Fauji’ was arrested for allegedly assaulting some staff members of a toll plaza at Barajor in Kanpur Rural district. Many would recall that the current Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was involved in an unforgettably unforgivable spat with a waiter in the 1990s. Intervention by other members prevented what could have become real ugly incident.
Politicians in India conduct themselves with public and public servants with a sense as if disrupting, beating, all come as a part of their rights. A right that needs to be exercised! Such an abuse of the power by the elected representative is not less than an epidemic and showcases their frame of mind- A mindset that places all others far lower than itself.
It’s high time that the top leaders of all political parties impress upon their colleagues that no one is above law of the land, and elected representatives should lead by example that displays compassion, respect and ensure the sanctity of the rule of law.