Aramane Giridhar caught in Moily crossfire

Vol 16, PW 24 (27 Jun 13) People & Policy

Relations between oil minister Veerappa Moily and exploration joint secretary Aramane Giridhar are going from bad to worse.

Moily suspects Giridhar of leaking information to former oil minister Jaipal Reddy. These leaks are apparently making their way to West Bengal communist MP Gurudas Dasgupta who accuses Moily of backing Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance and wants him to resign.

On June 19, Dasgupta said in a statement Moily told someone in the ministry the government had a weak case if arbitration begins with Reliance. “Moily asked how internal information is reaching Dasgupta,” says a source.

“He suspects the exploration division. Giridhar heads the exploration division so Moily suspects Giridhar.

” Moily is perceived as pro-Reliance; his predecessor Reddy as anti-Reliance. Unfortunate Giridhar, it seems, is caught in the crossfire.

As Reddy’s protégé he was brought to the ministry from Tamil Nadu in January 2012. But less than two years later speculation is rife he will be forced out of the exploration division to make way for fresh-faced RK Singh.

"Moily likes Singh," we hear. "He brought him to the ministry and knows him well.

” Singh joined the IAS in 1989 from Kerala and came to the oil ministry on June 18 from the I&B ministry to look after refining and administration. When contacted, Giridhar was unaware of the allegations against him.

“When I joined the service I took an oath to be loyal to India and its citizens,” said Giridhar. “I did not swear loyalty to Moily or Reddy.

” Note: Many suspect Moily is letting Giridhar stay at the exploration division only because he is handling a proposal to increase domestic gas prices from $4.2 to $6.775 next year. "Moily doesn't want to be criticised for replacing Giridhar before the gas price is approved," we learn.

Moily, say sources, believes Giridhar still briefs Reddy about important files and gives him official ‘note-sheets’ outlining key points. But an oil ministry official says the allegations are baseless.

“Everyone knows oil ministry documents are easily available," he says. "Anyone who wants a document can pay money and get it.

Why is Moily upset with Giridhar Documents were routinely leaked under Reddy also. Who was doing it then”