Vasudeva's file is still sitting in CVC office

Vol 14, PW 14 (13 Jan 11) People & Policy

Last minute doubts have suddenly emerged about whether ONGC director offshore Sudhir Vasudeva will replace RS Sharma as ONGC chairman on February 1, as planned.

In our last issue, we reported that the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had cleared Vasudeva’s file, but did we speak too soon PETROWATCH learns Vasudeva’s file has been held back by the CVC and was languishing there as of January 10. Details are scarce but some suggest this is because several high ranking Members of Parliament have sent written complaints about Vasudeva to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“These MPs have levelled ‘allegations of impropriety’ against Vasudeva,” says a source. “His file is being sent back and forth by the CVC and ONGC’s vigilance department.

” Apparently, Member of Parliament Tapan Sen of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) wrote a 16-page letter against Vasudeva to the PMO. In mid-December, the PMO asked the oil ministry for its opinion on these allegations.

Oil secretary S. Sundareshan responded with a letter defending Vasudeva.

Sundareshan told the PMO, in his letter, that all the allegations are baseless and spread by ‘people with vested interests’. “(Oil minister) Murli Deora will need to go out of his way to help Vasudeva,” says a regular oil ministry visitor.

“Otherwise Vasudeva is unlikely to take over from RS Sharma on February 1.” Another source speculates that ONGC director onshore AK Hazarika, who is the most senior director on the ONGC board, might have to step in as acting company chairman until Vasudeva’s formal appointment.

“Hazarika doesn’t want to become acting chairman,” we learn. “He sees no point in taking over without any real powers.

” But Hazarika will have no choice if the ministry orders him to take charge. Vasudeva was unavailable for comment, despite repeated attempts to contact him.