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Ashok Gajapathi Raju To Quit Over Assault By Shiv Sena MPs?

Many TDP leaders want Chandrababu Naidu to recall the union minister in protest against the incident in Parliament, and also sever ties with the BJP.
Hyderabad | 6th April 2017
Will union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, belonging to the Telugu Desam Party, resign 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 a "no fly list" for assaulting an airlines official recently rocked the House today?

This question has become an hot topic for discussion in political circles in Andhra Pradesh after the "shabby treatment" meted out to the minister who was virtually gheroed in Parliament by agitated Shiv Sena members.

It might be recalled here that Shiv Sena MP from Maharashtra Ravindra Gaikwad had by his own confession beaten 25 times with his slipper, a 60-year-old Deputy Manager of Air India, Sukumar, for not being provided 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 decided to bar the errant MP to travel in their flights. As a result the MP has been unable to fly to Delhi since then to attend the ongoing Parliament session.

When the issue figured in the Lok Sabha today, Gaikwad, instead of expressing remorse for his boorish behaviour, tried to play the victim card and demanded that the Air India authorities be punished for their actions for barring him from taking flights.

Surprisingly other members supported the errant MP, and the House witnessed heated arguments.

Ashok Gajapathi Raju explained the circumstances which had led to this situation, and said that the action of the airlines was not against an MP but against a passenger keeping in view the safety aspects involved.

This triggered off loud protests from Shiv Sena members, and some of them strode furiously to the place where the minister was seated and practically gheroed him. At one stage a member even tried to raise his hand against the minister, who was saved by other MPs including the TDP 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 Gajapathi Raju, a scion of the Vijayanagaram dynasty known for his soft-spoken and humble nature.

The TDP MPs and also party leaders in Andhra Pradesh are reported to be very upset over the incident in the House in which the shirt of one of them was also apparently torn.

TDP leaders condemned the incident unequivocally and even insisted that Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, who is also the president of Telugu Desam Party, take up the matter with the Prime Minister to get the latter to reprimand and condemn Shiv Sena, which is also an ally of the NDA like TDP.

Many are so agitated with today's happenings that they want Naidu to, in addition, not only recall Ashok Gajapathi Raju in protest, but also sever ties with the BJP.

However the big question is whether Naidu will take such a bold decision keeping in view the 2019 elections. Political circles feel that he would rather ignore the humiliation meted out to his party's union minister rather than cross swords with the BJP leadership.

However pressure seem to be mounting on the TDP leadership not to treat the issue lightly.

What seems to have hurt Raju more is that the Lok Sabha Speaker too had not come his rescue when the Shiv Sena MPs had surrounded and virtually assaulted him.

Knowing the sensitive nature of the TDP member, some feel that it should not come as a surprise if he puts in his papers in protest whether Naidu acts or not.

All eyes are now on Naidu to see what action he will take in not only appeasing his party MP but also not antagonizing the BJP leadership.
filed in:  Chandrababu Naidu, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, TDP, Parliament, Shiv Sena
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