Gajendra Singh tipped for GAIL director post

Vol 16, PW 25 (11 Jul 13) People & Policy

Three names have cropped up as front-runners in the race to replace RD Goyal as GAIL director projects when he retires on February 28 next year: Gajendra Singh, Ashutosh Karnatak, and AK Singh.

Nine executive directors (EDs) and six general managers applied for Goyal’s position. Gajendra Singh - an ED with strong political connections - never misses a promotion, say sources.

"He is related to Pritam Singh (Congress minister in Uttarakhand),” we hear. “He also knows Rahul Gandhi.

" Singh has been head of E&P at GAIL since 2011. Before that he managed gas pipeline operations and maintenance for two years.

His detractors say his background is mainly IT and that he has no experience in project planning or execution. More, he lacks an engineering degree.

By contrast Karnatak, ED projects, and AK Singh, ED southern zone, are strong candidates from within the projects department, both with hands-on experience of project execution. "They’ll need Tripathi's help to win," says a source, referring to GAIL chairman BC Tripathi.

AK Singh's relationship with chairman Tripathi is good, but he is haunted by the memory of a corruption inquiry against him in 2008, where he was later cleared. Karnatak was promoted to executive ED in 2009 while AK Singh became ED this year (2013).

Both are academically accomplished. Karnatak has a B.

Tech, M. Tech, MBA (finance) and a PhD in project management; AK Singh topped his B.

Tech and M. Tech classes.

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