Vijayendra Kaul leaves oil ministry for CAG

Vol 6, PW 2 (27 Mar 02) People & Policy

YOU COULD CALL it Shastri Bhawan's best kept secret! For once not a word escaped of the surprise announcement on 13th March that oil secretary Vijayendra Kaul would be moving on 15th March to replace V.

K Shunglu as Comptroller and Auditor General of India. Feared across India for its damning indictments of government waste and mismanagement, CAG is a prized post.

We learn the appointment came as a 'pleasant surprise' even to Kaul himself. "CAG is one of the most sought after jobs by bureaucrats at the end of their career," reveals a source.

"You answer only to parliament and the president." And retirement is at 65, five years later than other government jobs. Kaul was initially trailing powerful bureaucrats Shyamal Ghosh, Ashok Pradhan and Kamal Pande for the job but as with all top-level appointments, political patronage, caste (Kaul is a Kashmiri Brahmin) and the right connections went his way.

"Kaul was always a dark horse but his rivals cancelled each other out and he got the job." Kaul's gain is Shastri Bhawan's loss. In four years it has had five oil secretaries.

His nine-month tenure was only a month shorter than the eight months of his predecessor Pejavar Shankar. "This instability does no good to the decision making process," adds a source.

"Crucial issues such as APM dismantling have to be implemented. A new secretary will take time to settle in." Ram Naik hosted a farewell dinner for Kaul at a Delhi hotel on 16th March.

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