'My phone hasn't stopped ringing', says DK Sarraf

Vol 17, PW 14 (27 Feb 14) People & Policy

Ending months of uncertainty, OVL managing director DK Sarraf was officially confirmed as ONGC’s next chairman on (Wednesday) February 26.

A source at the Department of Personnel and Training tells us the order from prime minister Manmohan Singh was received at 7.30pm the same day confirming Sarraf’s appointment effective (Friday) February 28, the day outgoing chairman Sudhir Vasudeva steps down, aged 60. Vasudeva appears to have accepted his fate gracefully, after unsuccessfully lobbying for an eight-month extension beyond retirement.

He apparently told colleagues during a two-day ‘Mantrana’ brain-storming session of past and present ONGC directors on 22 and 23 February at Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh that Sarraf’s confirmation was imminent. “The PMO saw no merit in the argument that Vasudeva needs more time to see through ongoing projects and deals,” confirms a source in Vasudeva’s office.

Sarraf was selected to replace Vasudeva on August 30 last year but intense speculation followed he might have to wait indefinitely as Vasudeva tried to engineer an extension with support from oil minister Veerappa Moily. But in parliament the government faced a string of opposition allegations of cronyism and a decision to confirm Sarraf’s appointment was taken, whose file then moved with remarkable speed.

By (Monday) February 24 it landed on the desk of cabinet secretary AK Seth and the next day (Tuesday) it was with the PMO. "Thank you," said Sarraf, visibly relieved when congratulated by this report.

"My phone hasn't stopped ringing since the news broke."