Chandra's dilemma in P-LNG chief selection

Vol 18, PW 18 (07 May 15) People & Policy

Saurabh Chandra faced a curious dilemma in his last days before retiring as oil secretary on April 30.

Should he offend his old college buddy and BHEL director finance PK Bajpai or his son’s boss when choosing the next managing director of Petronet-LNG? In the end Chandra did what Indian bureaucrats do best: he avoided taking a decision. Five days earlier during his last Board meeting as Petronet-LNG chairman Chandra surprised everyone by staying mysteriously silent about who would replace AK Balyan after July 16 when he retires.

“Everybody was expecting Chandra to announce Bajpai as the next MD,” we hear from someone who attended the meeting, called to rubber-stamp Petronet-LNG's financial results for 2014-15. "All directors nominated by the promoter companies (IOC, BPCL, GAIL, ONGC) and independent directors were there.

" Bajpai was Chandra’s college roommate when they studied engineering at IIT Kanpur. Naturally he was under pressure to pick his old friend.

Equally embarrassing, however, would be if he had rejected the other main contender: GAIL director marketing Prabhat Singh, the clear favourite. Singh's daughter, we hear, is married to the son of Dr.

Vikram Singh, vice chancellor of Noida International University in Uttar Pradesh. And guess who works for Dr.

Singh? Saurabh Chandra’s son: Utkarsh Chandra, the university's Vice President (Marketing). “Chandra took the safe route," adds our source.

"He left the decision to his successor."

LNG Summit