Speculation rife over who will be next CMD of ONGC

Vol 10, PW 6 (13 Jul 06) People & Policy

Fevered speculation has begun over who will become the new CMD of ONGC, one of the most prestigious jobs in the Indian public sector.

On 19th June, the governments Public Enterprises Selection Board released an advert for the job and hopeful applicants, of whom there will no doubt be many, have until 15th July to apply. Whoever wins will step into the shoes of Subir Raha who vacated the position on 24th May after being denied an extension.

Rahas place has been temporarily filled by director finance RS Sharma, the senior-most director on the board. Several names are already circulating.

Most prominent among them is Sarthak Behuria, chairman and managing director of Indian Oil. Behuria, we hear, is well connected to the bureaucratic and political establishment in Delhi through family, friends and acquaintances.

His name has been mentioned from the day Raha stepped down. Raha was also from IOC before joining ONGC.

Applicants must have two years left from the date of the vacancy (24th May) till retirement at 60. Behuria retires on 3rd June 2012 and fully meets this key requirement.

Applicants from state-owned companies also need to have been director for at least a year in their respective companies. Behuria fits here too: he has been CMD of Indian Oil since 28th February 2005.

Another name is RS Butola, managing director of ONGC Videsh. Butola is also believed to have good connections.

He also an ONGC insider and retires on 31st May 2014, giving him a very long stretch if he makes it. Another insider is acting CMD RS Sharma.

The ministry might prefer him, we hear. He is a very mild, non-controversial person who doesnt rub anyone the wrong way.

Given its not-so-pleasant experience with strong-willed Raha, we hear, the ministry might prefer a low-profile candidate. Sharma, who retires on 31st January 2011, also has an edge because he is holding charge as CMD and has been director finance since March 2002.

Yet another insider talked about is Dr AK Balyan, director human resources. Balyan will be 60 in July 2011.

Crucially, hes believed to be related to powerful Congress party politicians.