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By the Way

In the hot seat


There was a tough battle going on to become Petroleum Secretary. It would not be wrong to say that this seemed to be the most coveted post since the present incumbent Vivek Rae retired in February. The Cabinet Secretariat drew up a panel of five top ranking bureaucrats—Rajan S Katoch, Director of the Enforcement Directorate, Amitabh Kant, CEO of Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor, Satyanarayan Mohanty, Director General of Directorate General of Supplies & Disposals, and Rakesh Singh, former Chief Secretary of Punjab and Saurabh Chandra, Secretary Department of Industrial Promotion and Planning. As per sources, Cabinet Secretary AK Seth zeroed in on Katoch for the prestigious post. Veerappa Moily then is believed to have consulted the Congress top brass. Katoch is handing a very sensitive department and he is needed for some more time as the files of cases related to Mulayam Singh and Mayawati and other politically sensitive leaders are under investigation in his office. Though Amitabh Kant, a competent officer, would have been the best choice, he can’t be relieved as he is handing the Prime Minister’s pet project. So, finally, Saurabh Chandra, a 1978 batch IAS officer, was selected as the new Petroleum Secretary. What Saurabh will do in the Ministry nobody knows, but officers who knows him, say he goes by the rule book. We hope Saurabh is aware that in the ministry, the rule book is kept aside and decisions are taken on the basis of who has the right connections in South Block. In any case, currently top ranking officials in the Petroleum Ministry in Shastri Bhawan are in a fix. They are struggling to find a way out on the issue of gas pricing. It is to be seen how Saurabh Chandra passes the next four crucial months in an election year.

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