Race for CRB post gathers steam

NEW DELHI:  With the incumbent Railway Board chairman, Mr Vinay Mittal, scheduled to demit office on 30 June, the race for his successor is gaining momentum against the backdrop of the cash-for-promotion scam which cost the former railway minister, Mr P K Bansal, his job.

Though there are three more contenders for this coveted post, Mr Kulbhushan, Member Electrical, Railway Board, is way ahead of his rivals and is likely to succeed Mr Mittal.

The other three potential candidates for this post are Mr R S Virdi, Mr V K Gupta and Mr A K Mittal, General Managers of North Frontier, Northern and South Western zones respectively.

A highly placed source in Rail Bhavan told RailNews that since 2003, when for the first time the 1987 resolution detailing the appointment of the Chairman Railway Board and members was enforced, the post of CRB has always been going to the person who fits the laid down criteria.

The 1987 resolution prescribes tenure linked norms for filling up the posts of members of the Railway Board, financial commissioner, Railways, and chairman Railway Board.

These norms were laid down to avoid appointments made for very short periods to the post of CRB and members.

Emphasizing that there has not been any aberration in adhering to these norms, the source said this time around the Cabinet Committee for Appointments (ACC) would be extra cautious in not allowing even the slightest deviation from the norms against the backdrop of the ‘Railgate’ scam. Norms that govern the filling up the post of CRB explicitly mention that the candidate should normally have a remaining tenure of two years or more and should have worked for a period of one year in the grade preceding that of member, Railway Board.

The preceding grade mentioned in the resolution is that of general manager (open lines) and it is on this specific point that Mr Kulbhushan may lose out as he served in ‘open lines’ a month less than a year.
But this interpretation conveniently overlooks that this one-year open-line service condition is applicable for only those candidates seeking to become CRB directly from the post of general manager of a zone.
A person who has already been appointed Member, Railway Board, does not require to meet this criterion which is any way is not mandatory as the qualifying word for this norm is “normally”.

Mr Kulbhushan belongs to the 1974 batch while Mr Virdi, who is second to him in seniority, belongs to the 1976 batch. Mr Kulbhushan is also senior-most among the four candidates who first reached the rank of general manager. Here too, he is followed by Mr Virdi.

However, on the yardstick of honesty, integrity and efficiency, all the four contenders measure up quite well, said sources in Rail Bhavan, conceding that the cash-for-promotion scam is a blessing in disguise for Mr Kulbhushan as the ACC will think twice in deviating from the norms for appointment.