Sundareshan on course to become oil secretary

Vol 13, PW 14 (17 Dec 09) People & Policy

Whispers are growing louder by the day that additional secretary S.

Sundareshan (left) will take over as the next oil secretary when RS Pandey retires on January 31. All the signs suggest Sundareshan’s elevation is imminent.

Regular visitors to the oil ministry tell us the 57-year old former additional secretary - who has already been â€کempanelled’ to the rank of full secretary - was appointed â€کspecial secretary’ in the ministry on December 15. The rank of â€کspecial secretary’ is typically a precursor for â€کempanelled’ secretaries awaiting new appointments, or promotion to full secretary.

Most believe Sundareshan’s new rank makes it inevitable he will stay at the oil ministry and replace Pandey as secretary, making him the most powerful oil industry bureaucrat in the land. “Sundareshan is well-versed with the oil and gas sector,â€‌ we hear.

Others say oil minister Murli Deora likes Sundareshan. “Deora wants an experienced and competent person around him,â€‌ we hear.

Polite, suave and articulate, Sundareshan has already started lobbying: last month he met TKA Nair, principal secretary in the PMO’s office, and a key figure. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Sundareshan takes charge as oil secretary,â€‌ adds another wag.

“(Former oil secretary MS) Srinivasan is a perfect example: first he was additional secretary, then special secretary for eight months before taking over as oil secretary.â€‌ Others say it is too early to predict anything, with a month and a half still to go before Pandey retires.

They add the Prime Minister usually makes a decision just days before the post is vacated. Some pessimists believe Sundareshan may not get the post at all.

“There are other officers who joined the IAS in 1976, just like Sundareshan,â€‌ they say. “They have been â€کspecial secretaries’ for a while.

What about themâ€‌

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