These days Reliance-bashing wins you friends

Vol 15, PW 7 (06 Oct 11) People & Policy

DGH boss SK Srivastava has the courage to stand up to Reliance and if you believe the grapevine that’s one reason why oil secretary Girish Chaturvedi wants to reward him with the post of next Oil India chairman.

“Srivastava has the best chance of winning,” says a well-placed source. “He has been ‘assured’ the post by people high up at the ministry.

” Aged 56, Srivastava continues to impress the oil ministry by repeatedly standing up to Reliance, unlike predecessor VK Sibal who is under criminal investigation for alleged collusion with the Mukesh Ambani-led group. Pedantic and a stickler for the rules, Srivastava is known for his honesty and integrity, and is described as “humble and patient” by those close to him.

His controversy-free tenure as DGH boss since February 2010 stands in stark contrast to his predecessor. “Sibal left us in a mess,” says a former DGH employee.

“Morale was low. There were regular CBI raids.

Nobody wanted to take a decision.” Srivastava by contrast has lost no opportunity to criticise Reliance for non-compliance with the PSC.

His only disadvantage in the Oil India chairman race is that he does not come from Assam. “But that won’t be an obstacle,” adds an Oil India source.

“Srivastava has given more than 30 years service to Oil India.” Before moving to the DGH, he was Oil India director operations.

Another source suggests Srivastava isn’t interested in the Oil India chairman post as his role at the DGH carries greater prestige. “Srivastava might choose to stay away from the interviews,” we are told.

“The ministry is also reluctant to lose him as DGH chief.” Under preparation is a list of 15 candidates that will be called for interview at the PESB on October 20 for the Oil India chairman post, which falls vacant on May 1 next year when NM Borah steps down.