Rajnath Singh overrules Pradhan over UV Mannur

Vol 18, PW 9 (18 Dec 14) People & Policy

In a crushing humiliation for oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan, India’s influential home minister and BJP strongman Rajnath Singh has endorsed UV Mannur’s selection as IndianOil director marketing.

“Singh doesn’t want any controversy,” we are told. Last month (November) Pradhan rejected Mannur on the flimsy excuse that he lacks retail sales and lube marketing experience.

But PETROWATCH learns Singh has overruled Pradhan with a ‘note’ in the file advising the ministry to follow a PESB recommendation to appoint him. “Mannur’s file is with Modi for the past week awaiting a decision,” says a government source.

Singh, he explains, is a seasoned politician and knows the BJP will face a Congress and media backlash if it rejects Mannur, particularly since he’s won crucial CVC and CBI anti-corruption clearance. Mannur was selected by the PESB on May 26 to replace director marketing M.

Nene who retires on December 31. “Modi will think twice before opposing Singh’s recommendation,” says a BJP source.

“But Modi is also unpredictable. Who knows he might override Singh and support Pradhan?” Singh was party president when Modi took over as PM in May this year and played a critical role in Modi's elevation as BJP prime ministerial candidate, overruling objections from LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Sushma Swaraj.