Balyan and Choubey lead the race for CMD of GAIL

Vol 10, PW 14 (02 Nov 06) People & Policy

Two names are increasingly being cited as favourites in the run-up to the coronation of the new CMD of GAIL: Dr.

UD Choubey, director marketing at GAIL and Dr. AK Balyan, director human resources at fellow state-owned ONGC.

By the fresh deadline of 16th October, the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) had received eight applications for the job. An earlier deadline of 14th October was extended by two days to accommodate the late receipt of applications due to intervening public holidays.

As with the appointment of all high-profile state-owned company chiefs, the CMD of GAIL will be someone who can work the complex political and bureaucratic power networks in Delhi. On both counts, Choubey and Balyan are evenly matched.

Choubey is from the politically important but economically backward eastern state of Bihar and is politically well connected. Balyan is from the northern state of Haryana and is believed to have family links to senior Congress leader and former federal minister Balram Jakhar, now governor of Madhya Pradesh.

Balyan is better connected politically than Choubey, says a source. More, we here ONGC chairman RS Sharma is supporting Balyan for the GAIL job as part of a secret pact between them.

Sharma assured support to Balyan for the GAIL chairmans job in exchange for him not pressing too hard for the ONGC chairmans job, says a wag. No date has been announced by the PESB to interview eager hopefuls, but expectations are high that interviews will be held after mid-November.

On 1st November, GAIL appointed its second temporary CMD when human resources director MR Hingnikar replaced SP Rao, who retired the day before at 60. Hingnikar, who has also applied for the CMD job, is the senior-most director on the board.

LNG Summit