Jain new chairman of GAIL, but for how long?

Vol 4, PW 26 (14 Feb 01) People & Policy

India's monopoly gas company has a new chairman and managing director - but he might only be around for another three months.

On 2nd February Gas Authority of India announced that its finance director J.K Jain, aged 55, "had assumed additional charge of chairman and managing director, following the retirement of C.

R Prasad on 31st January." To understand why Jain's appointment might only last three months, cut to October last year when the Public Enterprises Selection Board chose Mumbai-based Indian Oil executive director Prashant Banerjee as the next GAIL chairman ahead of Jain, in a move which angered staff at Indian Oil and GAIL. It's widely assumed that Banerjee's selection followed a direct intervention by Ranjan Bhattacharya, son-in-law of Prime Minister Vajpayee.

Matters were further complicated by the fact that Prasad lobbied hard for an extension as chairman, something he failed to achieve. Now, an unconfirmed report suggests that the Prime Minister's Office has scrapped the original 'panel' confirming Banerjee as the new chairman and will hold fresh interviews for the job.

Jain joined GAIL in 1985 as finance manager and rose to finance director in 1996. CR Prasad made his last appearance as chairman to announce 3rd quarter results in Delhi on 31st January.

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