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Ronen Sen says sorry before LS panel

India's ambassador to the US apologises over his remarks describing critics of the N-deal as "headless chicken," reports Saroj Nagi.
Hindustan Times | By Saroj Nagi, New Delhi
UPDATED ON OCT 30, 2007 02:35 AM IST

Indian Ambassador to the US Ronen Sen is likely to get a reprieve from the Lok Sabha Privileges Committee after his unconditional apology and impassioned plea that his “headless chicken’’ comment was not directed at the members of Parliament (MPs) at all.

Sources quoted Sen telling the panel that he is in the habit of using the phrase colloquially and often uses it when his wife keeps running around while preparing to receive guests at home.

Parliament’s supremacy was established when Sen became the first diplomat to appear before the Lok Sabha Privileges Committee after MPs strongly oppose his remarks in an interview.

The 15-member panel — of which about a dozen attended the meeting — will now gather against on October 31 to discuss the envoy’s response and finalise its report to present to the Lok Sabha during the winter session. However, a number of panel members were already getting ready to treat the Sen episode as a closed chapter. “MPs were in an sympathetic mood after he spoke,’’ remarked a participant.

But panel chairman V. Kishore Chandra Deo fended off all queries, merely stating that he would submit a report to Parliament. And there were no chicken cutlets served during the 40-minute meeting; the snacks were an all-vegetarian affair.

Sen’s apology notwithstanding, he wasn’t allowed to get away without being grilled. One member wondered how a senior diplomat like Sen could make such a remark. In an allusion to Sen’s initial clarification when his remarks created a storm of controversy, another participant said he should not have used the phrase to describe journalists.

And then, in a bid to establish Parliament’s supremacy, came the question: “Do you respect Parliament or not?’’ Sen’s unhesitant reply: “I do, a lot.” He is likely to make a similar statement when he appears before Rajya Sabha’s Privileges Committee on November 2.

Earlier, Sen tendered an unqualified apology and expressed regret for hurting the feelings of MPs even though he said the remarks were not directed at them.

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