The privileges committee of the Rajya Sabha is likely to reprimand envoy Ronen Sen before letting him off the hook over his "headless chickens” remarks following his unqualified apology.
The panel is likely to meet on November 19 to finalise its report. The Lok Sabha panel, which heard Sen on October 29, will meet on November 16 to finetune its report amid indications that it is also likely to give the Indian ambassador the US a reprieve and a warning.
As he had done before the Lok Sabha panel, Sen apologised several times to the Rajya Sabha committee for his “indiscretion” in making the remark that, he said, was not directed at MPs. However, he did not repeat what he told the Lok Sabha MPs: that he was in the habit of using the colloquial phrase, including when his wife scurried around preparing to receive guests at home.
After his 45-minute meeting with the Rajya Sabha panel, Sen declined to speak to waiting scribes. But sources said the envoy was not allowed to get away by admitting his indiscretion; particularly as news reports on his comments also carried a reference to a Rajya Sabha member and former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha. Sen described his reference to Sinha as an “indiscretion”.
During the interaction, members reportedly wondered whether the envoy was sincere in regretting his remarks. They also expressed surprise that a diplomat of his experience and stature could use such expressions and wondered whether there was more to it than meets the eye. Taken aback, Sen pleaded with them to believe him.
As for his reference to Sinha’s opposition to the deal even before the text of 123 Agreement became public, Sen said that news reports of the former minister’s opposition came when he was in the middle of a frustrating negotiation on getting the draft of the 123 Agreement.