Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is believed to have sought views of new Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on appointment of B Ashok as the head of India’s largest oil firm, Indian Oil Corp (IOC).
B Ashok, Executive Director (Retail Sales) at IOC, was on October 9, 2013 chosen to head the company by government headhunters Public Enterprise Selection Board (PESB), but the previous UPA government could not appoint him before its tenure ended.
Ashok’s appointment file was pending in the PMO since last month and last week PMO wrote to Pradhan seeking his comments, said sources privy to the development.
Ashok was to succeed R S Butola who retired from service on May 31 on attaining superannuation age of 60 years. Since a full-time chairman was not appointed in time, R K Malhotra, Director (R&D) and senior most director on IOC board, has been given additional charge for the time-being.
Sources said that once cleared by anti-corruption watchdogs CVC and CBI, M Veerappa Moily, Oil Minister in the previous UPA government, had forwarded Ashok’s candidature to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC).
The then Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had endorsed Ashok’s candidature and the file was put up to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh few days before polling to elect a new government ended. Singh however decided to leave it along with several other such cases for the new government to decide.
Sources said since the previous ACC, which has Prime Minister, Home Minister and minister-incharge of the concerned ministry as members, had been disallowed and a new one is in place with the election of the new government, all appointment files are returned the respective ministries and a fresh thought is given.
However, in case of IOC, the PMO has chosen not to return the file just yet and has only sought Pradhan’s view on appointment of Ashok, they said.
Ashok, 56, who has wide experience in marketing and international operations at IOC, will have a three-year tenure as Chairman if the NDA government approves his appointment.
Sources said IOC faces a peculiar challenge in almost all its board due to retire in next few months.
Malhotra, who is acting chairman, is due to retire by the month end. And if by then Ashok is not appointed, the
additional charge will be given to the next senior most director, AMK Sinha, Director for Business Development.
Sinha will retire by July end and next in line, P K Goyal, Director (Finance), in the following month.
R K Ghosh, Director (Refineries) too will retire by month end while Director (Marketing) M Nene would demit office by end of December. Director (HRD) post is vacant and V S Okhde, the only the functional director on company board, will superannuate on January 31, 2015.