|Still headless at ONGC|
|Monday, 13 June 2011 00:00|
It is India’s fourth-most valuable company, and has been headless for nearly 5 months. Given the way the appointment is being tossed around, it could be some time before ONGC gets a full-time chief. Since RS Sharma was to retire on January 31, interviews were held in October—of the 13 persons interviewed, two were shortlisted, ONGC’s exploration director S Vasudeva was first on the list and Pawan Hans chairman RK Tyagi was second. Though the rules are clear that no complaints are to be entertained after the interviews are held (“or forever hold your piece”!), PJ Thomas allowed this when he was CVC. The major complaints were examined by the oil ministry’s vigilance officer as well as ONGC’s, and were dismissed—in one case, the MP who was supposed to have sent the complaint said it was a forgery. Thomas, however, was insistent, and the matter was re-examined.
This too cleared Vasudeva and, under the new CVC appointed after Thomas was asked to put in his papers, the usual one-line clearance was issued. But, as the Indian Express reported Thursday, the personnel department told the CVC, “the Competent Authority has directed that details of the complaints against Vasudeva as well as comments on the representation of Jainarayan Prasad Nishad MP may be furnished”. If it wasn’t so serious, you’d want to laugh. It also says volumes for the system that allows Vasudeva to continue as ONGC’s director in charge of exploration—after all, if he’s not considered clean enough to be ONGC’s chief, he can’t be clean enough to be its exploration director either.
How seriously the PM views such delays can be seen from the fact that, while reviewing the performance of the highways sector last week, he pulled up the minister for not being able to select a full-time chairman of the NHAI for over 6 months. ONGC’s appointment, it has to be pointed out, is not the only such case. UTI hasn’t had a chief since February and, as this paper has reported, the tussle between the finance ministry and UTI’s board has kept the post vacant. Union Bank of India had to give a 3-month extension to its chairman since it hasn’t found a replacement, LIC is without a chief ... Headless chicken, as BJP leader Arun Jaitley said in a different context