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MEA responds to LS with ‘facts’ on Sen’s statement

It is unlikely that envoy Ronen Sen will have to come back to explain his statements before Parliament, reports Nilova Roy Chaudhury.
By Nilova Roy Chaudhury | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 29, 2007 10:03 PM IST

It is unlikely that India’s envoy to the United States, Ronen Sen, will have to come back to explain his statements before Parliament.

The unprecedented issue of breach of privilege notices against a serving Indian Ambassador abroad has been defused with the External Affairs Ministry promptly responding with "facts" to a notice from the Lok Sabha Secretariat seeking details of comments allegedly made by Sen in an interview.

As the nodal ministry, the MEA on Monday sent back its replies to the Lok Sabha Secretariat, based on the statement made by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on August 21. "Those were the facts," a senior official said.

The Lok Sabha Speaker will now determine whether Sen committed an unparliamentary breach of privilege and whether the case should be referred to the Privileges Committee for further action.

The CPI-M and the BJP had, last week, moved privilege motions in both Houses of Parliament against Sen for his reported "unwarranted" and "derogatory" comments on parliamentarians.

Mukherjee, in his clarification had said the remarks were "unwarranted and unacceptable," and added an "unqualified apology" from Sen.

"My comment about running round like headless chicken looking for a comment here or a comment there was a tactless observation on some of my media friends and most certainly not with reference to any honourable MP," Sen said in a message read out by Mukherjee in the Lok Sabha. He also said some of the comments attributed to him in the "off-the-record" conversation were made in his "personal capacity" and "do not reflect the positions of the government."

Former diplomats said this was probably the first time a serving envoy had been embroiled in a parliamentary breach of privilege case.

Interestingly, the National Union of Journalists has sought Sen’s recall for his derogatory statements against journalists.

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