Pradhan challenges PMO over Sanjib Datta

Vol 18, PW 10 (15 Jan 15) People & Policy

Dharmendra Pradhan is fighting the PMO over the appointment of Sanjib Datta as GAIL’s new director business development.

In a clear rebuke to the PMO oil minister Pradhan returned Datta’s file to the cabinet appointments committee for approval on (Friday) January 9 with a sharp note saying the PESB procedure which selected Datta on February 14, 2014 to replace S. Venkatraman was wholly “transparent”.

Earlier in the week the PMO asked Pradhan a pointed question: why did he not answer serious questions raised over Datta’s appointment by the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes – an influential body set up to protect India’s disadvantaged minorities? Last year the Commission ordered the ministry to scrap Datta’s selection and call fresh interviews following a complaint from rival Gajendra Singh, also a GAIL executive director. Pradhan in his wisdom ignored the directive and in November (2014) recommended Datta’s name for approval, saying an internal ministry investigation concluded no injustice had been done to Singh, a view dismissed by the PMO, which demanded a more detailed explanation.

At stake is Pradhan’s credibility. In December he suffered a humiliating blow when home minister and BJP strongman Rajnath Singh pointedly asked him why he is blocking the appointment of UV Mannur as IndianOil’s new director marketing.