'Chhote' Pradhan moves to Moscow

Vol 22, PW 10 (07 Mar 19) News in Brief

Binay Srikanta Pradhan, private secretary and 'Man Friday' to oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan, is set to move out.

This report learns external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has signed orders confirming Pradhan's appointment as deputy ambassador to the Indian embassy in Moscow beginning end-April (2019). "Pradhan has been promoted to joint secretary," confirms an oil ministry source.

Fondly known as 'Chhote' (junior) Pradhan, he wields immense clout and is arguably one of the most powerful officers working with the oil minister. "Whatever the minister wants, good or bad," reveals a source, "orders are passed through 'Chhote' Pradhan."

Also from Odisha, 'Chhote' Pradhan is often seen whispering in Dharmendra Pradhan's ears during meetings or press conferences. Accessible and unassuming, he greets everyone with a smile and follows his master like a shadow.

In one incident in 2016, witnessed by this report, 'Chhote' Pradhan phoned the country head of a global oilfield services provider instructing him to drop a complaint against a rival contractor over a $200m integrated ONGC services contract. Pradhan joined the IFS in 2002 and became Dharmendra Pradhan's PS in 2014.