Pulok Chatterji, principal secretary to Prime Minister and close confidante of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
Usmani, who has been chosen by BoI as India’s 4th Most Powerful Bureaucrat, 2012, is a staunch follower of Chatterji who calls the shot in PMO, and virtually in most important Central ministries. And Usmani worked under Chatterji in Prime Minister’s Office during UPA-1 and then in World Bank’s Washington DC headquarters.
A product of IIM-Ahmedabad and London School of Economics, Usmani was the front-runner for Union commerce secretary’s post in March this year when then commerce secretary Rahul Khullar was supposed to take up an assignment in Brussels. But Khullar did not take the Brussels offer and Usmani, who was waiting for a posting after a year-long sabbatical, decided to go back to his parent state as chief secretary.
Whereas Usmani’s personal rapport with Prime Minister and his principal secretary Chatterji has been valuable, he is also drawing his power and influence from young UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s willingness to give him a free-hand to get development projects back on track. During Mayawati’s regime, chief secretary, the top bureaucratic post in a state, became a figure-head in UP as the chief minister then had installed one of her key confidantes as the “cabinet secretary”, a post which was challenged in courts as “unconstitutional”.
The only other state bureaucrat who comes somewhat close to Usmani in terms of power and ability to influence in the state administration is Gautam Sanyal who had registered a meteoric rise under West Bengal chief minister Ms Mamata Banerjee. In West Bengal, the rise and rise of Sanyal, a Central Secretariat Service officer, is giving heart-burns to many an IAS.
BVR, the 5th Most Powerful Bureaucrat