Sigh of relief as 'Raja' stays as GSPC chairman

Vol 13, PW 17 (11 Feb 10) People & Policy

GSPC managing director Tapan Ray will be happy to hear his predecessor DJ Pandian will not yet be the company chairman.

Instead, top Gujarat bureaucrat D. Rajagopalan (left), or 'Raja' as he is affectionately known to friends, will continue as company chairman for another six months at least.

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, it seems, personally backed 'Raja' at an â€کinternal meeting’ held last month (January). “Modi made the decision in just a few minutes,â€‌ says a Gandhinagar source.

'Raja', we hear, is known for his relaxed and industry friendly approach and is likely to continue as GSPC chairman for the first half of this year to oversee GSPC’s imminent IPO. A loyal Modi supporter for years, the chief minister has rewarded that loyalty, say friends.

Last December rumours were rife that Pandian, another Modi favourite, would be GSPC chairman after 'Raja' retired from government on December 31, 2009, aged 60. Most believed he would step down, as no retired government bureaucrat has ever held the post of GSPC chairman.

But they were wrong! “It is the chief minister’s prerogative to appoint the GSPC chairman,â€‌ says a top Modi aide. “Modi has exercised that right, regardless of whether he is retired.

â€‌ Others tell us Modi picked (relaxed) 'Raja' over (frenetic) Pandian because of his “hands-offâ€‌ approach – reducing the potential of a personality clash with GSPC boss Tapan Ray. “’Raja’ looks at the bigger picture,â€‌ we hear, “not the intricate details of GSPC operations.

â€‌ Ray, by contrast, meticulously analyses even the tiniest expense – even money spent on paper clips! These two contrasting approaches will complement each other as GSPC prepares for its IPO. 'Raja', we hear, is clearing his desk.

Last month he retired as Gujarat chief secretary and quit as chairman of Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals (GACL) and Gujarat State Fertilisers and Chemicals (GSFC). His only job now is to ensure a successful IPO.