In an indication of a possible shift in the power equation in coming days within the Prime Ministers Office (PMO),Pulok Chatterji,a senior IAS officer from the UP cadre who is known to be close to the Nehru-Gandhi family,has been recalled from his present posting as executive director of the World Bank in Washington and assigned to the PMO.
Chatterjis midway shift back to Delhi he was to complete his three-year term in Washington only in February next year has triggered speculation that T K A Nair,the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister,could be given a gubernatorial posting to make way for Chatterji. After the recent reshuffle,the government has next on its agenda gubernatorial appointments in at least six or seven states including Rajasthan,Andaman and Nicobar,Tamil Nadu,Arunachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Chatterjis order approved on Tuesday by the appointments committee,interestingly,does not mention the post that he will be occupying in South Block,except to state that he has been recalled from his World Bank assignment and placed at the disposal of the Prime Ministers Office. A 1974 batch officer,Chatterji had worked in the PMO in the rank of additional secretary during UPA-1 and had taken up the Washington assignment at the fag end of the previous governments term. He was recently in the capital and had called on the Prime Minister as well as Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
The senior officer,however,has been known for his proximity to the Nehru-Gandhi family,having served as deputy commissioner and district magistrate of Sultanpur and Rae Bareli the pocketborough of the Family as a young officer and later as private secretary to Sonia Gandhi when she was Leader of Opposition. His return is now expected to bring further synergy between the Prime Minister and Sonia.
Sources in the government,however,maintained that Chatterji could be posted as a secretary in the PMO as there was provision for appointment of two or more secretaries there.
Presently the PMO has a single secretary,M N Prasad,whose term is to end shortly. The sources,however,admit that Chatterjis return to the PMO was certain to change the power structure within the most powerful office in the country. During UPA-1,Chatterji,along with the then NSA M K Narayanan and special envoy Shyam Saran,were considered among the most influential bureaucrats in the country.