TWO years ago, when BoI (www.babusofindia.com) ranked Pulok Chatterji as the most powerful Indian bureaucrat despite being stationed in US, many readers got surprised. BoI then said: “A 1974 batch IAS from Uttar Pradesh cadre, Pulok Chatterji could now be posted far away in
as an executive director of the World Bank, but his one phone call carries more weight than many important files doing round the power corridors of Washington DC .” Delhi
Pulok Chatterji, who is joining as principal secretary to PM in the first week of October, is ranked second in BoI list of 5 Most Powerful Bureaucrats, 2011. But what makes him so special and powerful? There is no prize for guessing. Chatterji’s proximity to UPA chairwoman Sonia Gandhi says it all.
Chatterji’s joining the PMO as the top bureaucrat may even facilitate Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to the top job in the event that 78-year-old Manmohan Singh demits office before May 2014. Chatterji is supposed to be an effective conduit between the PMO and 10 Janpath, ensuring fast-tracked implantation of flagship schemes that may determine the fortunes of the UPA-II in the next general elections.
Chatterji’s personal equation with Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s family goes back to the days when he was Rae Bareli’s district magistrate in early 1980s. The bond only got strengthened when Chatterji became director in the PMO during Rajiv Gandhi’s time, a secretary (joint secretary equivalent) in Rajiv Gandhi Foundation in early 1990s, and then private secretary to Sonia Gandhi when she was the leader of the Opposition.
No wonder, when 64-year-old Ms Gandhi was reportedly admitted in
’s Sloan-Kettering hospital for an undisclosed surgery in August, it was Chatterji who according to some sources, arranged all the logistics keeping the Indian Embassy in New York in dark. The big question here is: Will Chatterji be able to play key role in improving UPA-II’s deteriorating health? Washington