Whispers of Vivek Rae shifting to defence ministry

Vol 16, PW 16 (07 Mar 13) People & Policy

Hardly two months into his new job and there's already talk that oil secretary Vivek Rae is moving out.

Fifty-nine-year old Rae was appointed oil secretary on February 1 to replace Girish Chaturvedi. If he stays at the oil ministry, Rae must retire on February 28, 2014, aged 60.

But rumour has it he wants to move to the defence ministry by May 31, 2013, where he can retire at 62. This is because present defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma is rumoured to become the next Comptroller and Auditor General of India, replacing Vinod Rai who retires on May 31.

It’s an open secret that Pulok Chatterjee, PMO principal secretary, holds Rae in high esteem and wants him at the defence ministry. Should it happen, it will be the oil ministry's loss.

"Rae is a good leader,” reports a regular oil ministry visitor. “He speeds up clearances.

He's a decision maker and leads by example." Punctual Rae arrives at the ministry at 9.30am, leaving at 8:30pm.

“Rae believes in (former Indian President Dr. APJ Abdul) Kalam's motto that to achieve goals you must be honest with yourself,” he adds.

This honesty was on sharp display at celebrations to mark Dahej's 1000th LNG cargo on February 25 when Rae admitted that defence ministry bureaucrats were "paralysed in decision making" over exploration clearances at 40 offshore oil blocks. Perhaps Rae could change things if he is defence secretary But he faces a major obstacle: defence minister AK Antony doesn't want him, preferring instead Ravi Mathur, disinvestment secretary in the finance ministry since January 14 this year.

Mathur joined the IAS from Rajasthan in 1979. Rae joined the IAS in 1978.

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