As the hunt for the successor of Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel begins, top government officials say any of the current deputy governors is unlikely to be promoted. The seniormost among them, N.S. Vishwanathan, got the charge during the transition period. But unlikely to get elevated.
The names of Department of Financial Services Secretary Rajiv Kumar, along with his colleague Subhash C. Garg and RBI Board member S. Gurumurthy are doing the rounds. But their appointment appears unlikely. Both Garg and Gurmurthy had taken the RBI governor head on in the previous two board meetings.
The new governor will not only have the challenge of meeting the government's expectations but will also have to accept the supremacy of the board. The appointment, however, may take some time as sources told BT that the government may come up with an advertisement seeking applications; then, the names will be discussed at the Appointment Committee of for Cabinet, or ACC. The FSRASC, under ACC has mandate to select officials at all financial sector regulatory bodies, including Governor & Deputy Governors at RBI. Once cleared from the ACC, Prime Minister's Office approves the name.
But as of now, the names doing the rounds are:
- Ex-Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adia: Confidant of both PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, easy working relationship with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Retired recently, moved back to Ahmedabad after refusing a post-retirement job at the PMO. But the RSS dislikes him. It considers him behind GST and demonetisation implementation glitches.
- Ex-Secretary Financial Services Shaktikanta Das: Close to both Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and top officials at the PMO. The RSS doesn't like him. That he is low key may work in his favour.
- Principal Economic Advisor Sanjeev Sanyal: Confident of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, liked by both the prime minister and Amit Shah. He also has support from the RSS. Overlooked for the position of Chief Economic Advisor. Might be too young for the job. His understanding of macro economy and banking is appreciated across the BJP-RSS ideology base.
- NITI Aayog VC Rajiv Kumar: A close confidant of the prime minister, liked by Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley. Has bridged his relationship with the RSS as well. Has served on the RBI board. Prior to that, he was a non-executive member on State Bank of India's board. Presently, holds the cabinet minister rank, whereas the RBI governor's slot is a step below, that is, Minister of State.
Also watch out for two former deputy governors Rakesh Mohan and Subir Gokan. Rakesh Mohan was, in fact, a compromise choice between government nominees and RBI management to review the possibility of transfer of the RBI surplus.