Ex-ONGC chief RS Sharma lashes out at Modi

Vol 18, PW 26 (27 Aug 15) People & Policy

Former ONGC chairman RS Sharma has lashed out at the Narendra Modi administration for interfering in the running of state-owned companies and demoralising senior officers by not granting them extensions.

If Modi heeds Sharma’s warnings, it could help GAIL chairman BC Tripathi who is anxiously hoping the government will allow him to stay on for another four years. But Sharma’s letter, sent to Modi on August 16, was triggered by what he calls the government’s shocking decision this month (August) to deny an extension to NTPC chairman Arup Roy Choudhury, 58, until his retirement, and its decision in June to deny an extension to SAIL chairman CS Verma until his retirement in 2019.

“I recall in your first message as PM to the PSUs (state-owned companies) you gave the slogan ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’,” writes Sharma. “The government under your leadership is talking about empowering PSUs and promoting talent, even from the private sector.

” But, he adds, Modi’s “opaque policy” of not granting extensions has made these claims “a sham.” He expresses concern about Modi’s removal of several independent directors from state-owned companies, appointed by the previous government.

Sharma calls on Modi to “redeem the morale of the PSU fraternity” by granting extensions to Choudhury and Verma. “Cutting short my disgust and disappointment (sic),” he writes, “I seek an audience with you to elaborate on these issues and share my thoughts.

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