Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily has managed to have a final say in deciding the new Petroleum Secretary. Based on his choice – sent out on Monday – the Prime Minister has approved the name of Saurabh Chandra as the replacement of Vivek Rae who superannuates end of this month.
Chandra is a 1978 batch officer from the Uttar Pradesh cadre. He is presently serving as Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.
Last week, Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth declined to appoint any of the three IAS officers earlier suggested by Moily and foisted Rajan S Katoch – Director of the Enforcement Directorate – as Rae’s successor. This peeved Moily who had previously gone along with Seth’s selection of Rae in January 2013.
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Last Monday, Moily wrote to Seth saying he had re-evaluated the credentials of the possible candidates and identified Chandra as the best option to head the ministry. He was Moily’s choice in January 2013 when Seth had sidestepped him with Rae’s appointment.
Chandra’s name had not figured in Moily’s first list of three IAS officers – Amitabh Kant, Satyanarayan Mohanty and Rakesh Singh – this time round but was pushed when the Cabinet Secretariat prepared an evaluation sheet giving one reason or another for turning down the first three.
Sources say the Cabinet Secretariat’s argument was that Kant (Kerala 1980), currently CEO of Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corp, was required at DMIC because it was at the crucial stage of being launched on the ground.
Mohanty (Andhra Pradesh 1980) was rejected since he had been laterally shifted last December as Director General of Directorate General of Supplies & Disposals in Ministry of Commerce from CEO, Food & Safety Standard Authority in Health & Family Welfare department while Singh (Punjab 1978) was not considered as he was Chief Secretary of Akali-Dal ruled Punjab state.
Armed with these arguments, Seth then informally recommended to Moily that Katoch (Madhya Pradesh 1979) would be a better choice as Rae’s replacement. The minister initially agreed to the selection, said sources, but four days later changed his mind to impose his original choice of Chandra.