RBI governor Patel is ex-GSPC and Modi friend

Vol 19, PW 25 (25 Aug 16) People & Policy

He used to be Narendra Modi's eyes and ears on the Board of GSPC.

Now Dr. Urjit Patel will be Modi's eyes and ears at the Reserve Bank of India, India's federal bank which controls the monetary policy for the rupee.

Nairobi-born Patel, 53, was appointed to succeed controversial governor Dr Raghuram Rajan, also 53, on August 20. He will take over when Rajan steps down on September 4.

"It was only a matter of time before Patel's name was announced," says a senior GSPC source. Educated at Oxford, the London School of Economics and Yale University, Patel was always a strong contender for the governor job after flamboyant Rajan stunned everybody by abruptly announcing his decision to quit in June.

Rajan had been severely attacked by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy for being "unpatriotic." Patel on the other hand is unlikely to incur such wrath. A staunch Modi supporter, he stood by the PM after the Gujarat riots in 2002 for which Modi was strongly criticised.

Modi never forgot this and brought Patel to the GSPC board in 2006-2007, where he remained until 2013. "Earlier MDs like DJ Pandian and Tapan Ray were intimidated by Patel's presence on the board (because of his links to Modi)," says a senior GSPC source.

"As a Board member, he came across as meticulous and prepared in great detail for meetings."