No decision on calling Ronen yet, privileges panel chief


New Delhi : The privileges committee of parliament will meet soon and decide on whether to call India’s ambassador to US Ronen Sen over his remarks that allegedly alluded to opponents of the India-US civil nuclear deal as “headless chickens.”

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“I received the file only on Friday. I haven’t even opened it. Nothing has been decided yet,” V. Kishore Chandra S. Deo, chairman of the parliamentary privileges committee, told IANS here Sunday.

“We will hold our first meeting soon and decide on the modus operandi. We will have to call petitioning MPs who gave a privilege notice against Sen. Then, we will call the newspapers and journalists who published the interview,” Deo, Congress MP from Andhra Pradesh, said.

“It’s only after due process of consultations we will decide whether it is necessary to call Sen or not to explain his remarks before the panel,” he said.

The decision to call Sen may be taken as early as Wednesday, reliable sources said. Deo would, however, not commit to a time frame. “It could happen soon or it could also take weeks.”

The BJP and the left parties had moved two privilege notices against Sen for his remarks describing opponents of the nuclear deal as “headless chickens” that allegedly denigrates the dignity of parliament.

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee referred privileges notice against Sen to the privileges committee Friday.

After his remarks created a storm in parliament in India, Sen was quick to apologise and admitted being “tactless,” but added in the same breath that his remarks in an interview given to Aziz Hanifa of Rediff India Abroad were aimed at sound byte-hungry journalists and not politicians.

“My comment about running round like headless chickens 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 his apology ready out in the House last week by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Sen was quoted in the interview saying that the deal had been approved in Washington by President George W Bush and in New Delhi by the Indian Cabinet. “So, why do we have all this running around like headless chickens, looking for a comment here or a comment there, and these little storms in a tea cup…”

The envoy had also clarified that his remarks were “off-the-record” conversation which were made in his “personal capacity” and “do not reflect the positions of the government”.