Don't upset Pradhan or you'll get transferred!

Vol 18, PW 1 (28 Aug 14) People & Policy

Dharmendra Pradhan is widely believed to be behind moves to transfer ONGC officials who don't do his bidding.

Take ONGC general manager corporate communications SK Jha. Colleagues were taken aback to learn when Jha received orders on August 20 abruptly transferring him from ONGC's headquarters in central Delhi to a 'punishment posting' in Assam.

Jha retires in April next year (2015) and transfers of this nature before retirement are rare. What was his crime? A source tells us in early August Jha was approached by a company citing oil minister Pradhan's reference and demanded Rs175,000 ($3000) for the famous Rath Yatra or chariot festival at Puri in Orissa - the oil minister's home state.

"Jha refused," we hear. "He explained he did not handle donations." In anger Pradhan reportedly called ONGC director human resources DD Misra to complain about the refused donation.

Days later, Jha received his transfer orders to Assam. "Somebody worked overtime on this," we hear.

"Jha's transfer orders were prepared between August 15 and August 17." Unusual, they say, as most of India was on holiday for the long Independence Day weekend. "It is very unusual for an officer to be transferred when he has less than a year to retirement," adds a source.

"Jha should have at least been asked if he wanted to move closer to his family in Vadodara."