Bhargava tipped as new additional secretary

Vol 13, PW 18 (25 Feb 10) People & Policy

Senior bureaucrats are lobbying hard to become the new oil ministry additional secretary, a post left vacant by S.

Sundareshan when he replaced RS Pandey as oil secretary on February 1. Nobody had been appointed by February 22, but many believe Sudhir Bhargava, who joined the IAS in 1979 from Rajasthan, and is now in the chemicals and fertilisers ministry is the strongest candidate.

Any successful candidate should have joined the IAS either in1977, 1978 or 1979 because Sundareshan joined in 1976 and the new candidate needs to be at least one year junior. “There are many eligible officers who joined in those years,â€‌ we hear.

“It’s difficult to narrow it down to any single person.â€‌ But the next additional secretary is likely to be an officer with four to five years until retirement at 60 and 55-year old Bhargava is ideally suited.

“The oil ministry is an important economic ministry,â€‌ one source close to the ministry explains. “Whoever becomes the oil secretary after Sundareshan would need to have experience working there and understand the basics of the job.

â€‌ Any new additional secretary appointed should be someone who can take over immediately as oil secretary when Sundareshan retires in 2012 and stay until 2015. Two names can be safely eliminated: current oil ministry additional secretary and financial advisor PK Sinha; and Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulatory Board secretary RP Watal.

Sinha joined the IAS in 1977 and is likely to be promoted to secretary in less than a year before being transferred to another ministry. “Only if Sundareshan gets moved out earlier than expected will Sinha have any chance of becoming oil secretary,â€‌ we are told.

“But that’s a very remote possibility!â€‌ Watal began his IAS career in 1978 but missed promotion in November 2009 when others from his year became additional secretaries because he failed to win a recommendation from oil minister Murli Deora.