Monday, October 03, 2011

Back in PMO: Pulok Chatterji joins as principal secretary to Prime Minister

FINALLY, the most talked about Indian bureaucrat Pulok Chatterji is back in corridors of power. A few hours from now, Chatterji, a 1974 batch UP cadre IAS and close confidante of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, is taking charge as principal secretary to PM replacing TKA Nair. Chatterji was called back from his current position of executive director of the World Bank even before his term ended. Nair, who has been anchoring the PMO from May 2004, will continue to remain in PMO at least for time being as an adviser to PM in the rank of a minister of state.
On September 5, BoI ( while declaring Chatterji as the 2nd Most Powerful Indian Bureaucrat, 2011, said: “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 79-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 implementation of flagship schemes that may determine the fortunes of the UPA-II in the next general elections.”
Two years ago, BoI ranked Chatterji as the most powerful Indian bureaucrat despite being stationed in US. That surprised many readers. But most insiders in Raisina Hill knew it for sure that Chatterji who was Manmohan Singh’s private secretary and then secretary in PMO during UPA-I would eventually take the centre-stage. He is a rare bureaucrat who has direct access to 10 Janpath, the official residence of Sonia Gandhi. Chatterji first came into contact with the Gandhi family when he was the district magistrate in Rae Bareli in 1980s. He then became a director in the PMO during Rajiv Gandhi’s time. Later he became 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.
Chatterji’s entry into PMO is likely to strengthen the National Advisory Council (NAC) headed by Sonia Gandhi, as many of its high profile activist members are currently unhappy with a number of government decisions including Planning Commission’s recent definition of rich at Rs 32. NAC secretary Rita Sharma is his batch-mate from the same UP cadre. With Chatterji at the helms, NAC’s views and suggestions are bound to be taken more seriously by babus in every ministry.

Action and Appointments
a) Kumar Sanjay Krishna, a 1985 batch Assam cadre IAS, is now pursuing a DoPT-sponsored advance certificate course in public administration in Syracuse University, USA. The course will end in December. Krishna had earlier served as a director in PMO and joint secretary in finance ministry.
b) BK Sinha, a 1975 batch Bihar cadre IAS, and rural development secretary has been given additional charge of the post of secretary in the ministry of drinking water and sanitation for a period of three months.
c) The government has extended the term of Gokul Chandra Pati, 1978 batch Orissa cadre IAS and additional secretary in department of agriculture, for three months beyond October 6, 2011.
d) Unmesh Sharad Wagh, a 2000 batch IRS officer and former OSD to then minister of state for communication and IT has now become the private secretary to the minister of state for coal Pratik P Patil at the level of a deputy secretary.

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