Vijayraghavan replaces Bashal as Joint Secretary

Vol 4, PW 24 (17 Jan 01) People & Policy

Another humiliating climb-down for oil minister Ram Naik.

We learn that Naik has been forced to accept the appointment of S.Vijayraghavan as the new Joint Secretary (Gas) to replace C.


Naik was trying hard to get Leena Mehendale, a 1974 batch bureaucrat from his home state of Maharashtra to replace Bashal, and rejected Vijayraghavan's name when it first came up. Vijayraghavan's move to the oil ministry from the revenue department is a routine central government transfer and does not require Naik's approval.

More, the oil minister is bound by protocol to accept the transfer without a murmur. But he ignored protocol and voiced protest to the Prime Minister's Office over Vijayraghavan's appointment.

This was rejected and Vijayraghavan assumed his new job on 11th January. Not for the first time has Naik angered the PMO.

His attempt to appoint Engineers India project director M.K Dalal as the new company chairman over Keshav Saran of the National Thermal Power Corporation, despite Saran's selection by the Public Enterprises Selection Board, also caused friction.

Now we hear the PMO has likewise rejected Naik's attempt to appoint V.K Sharma as the next operations director at ONGC over I.

B Raina, whose appointment was also approved by a government selection board. These days it's not uncommon to hear people whisper aloud if Naik might not be over-stepping his mark and heading for a transfer during the next cabinet re-shuffle.