Manish Tewari's interest in Petronet-LNG

Vol 16, PW 8 (01 Nov 12) People & Policy

Why is Congress Party spokesman Manish Tewari (India’s newly-appointed information and broadcasting minister) so interested in the selection process for a new director technical at Petronet-LNG Many are aghast that a man with Tewari’s high profile as MP would bother to write to former oil minister Jaipal Reddy on September 14 questioning the eligibility criteria for the Petronet-LNG director technical position.

In his letter Tewari said the condition requiring candidates to have worked just below board level for three years should be relaxed. This condition tilts the scales in favour of two internal candidates: senior vice presidents Manmohan Ahuja and Rajender Singh.

But following Tewari’s letter they were joined by Petronet-LNG senior vice president Pushp Khetarpal, who was invited to interview on October 12. Unlike Ahuja and Singh, Khetarpal has yet to complete three years as senior vice president.

Petronet-LNG should have announced the winner by October 19 when outgoing director technical CS Mani retired, but no announcement was made. “Something fishy is going on,” says an insider.

Tewari denies he is acting for any of the candidates. “I did not write anyone’s name in my letter,” he tells us, when contacted.

“Nor do I have a candidate in mind.” Tewari said he acted on an anonymous complaint.

“I usually don’t support people for jobs like this,” he adds. “I don’t even know the people who approached me.

But their complaint seemed genuine so I wrote to Reddy asking him to investigate.” A Supreme Court lawyer, 46-year-old Tewari was elected to parliament in 2009 from Ludhiana in Punjab.