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23 April 2007 Society Civil Servant

Pulok Chatterjee

A quiet, low-key force in the bureaucracy
In 1980s Sanjay Gandhi wanted a new DM for Sultanpur (under which Amethi falls)—an IAS officer, but not originally from Uttar Pradesh. By a process of elimination, the then chief minister V.P. Singh discovered one Pulok Chatterji (IAS, 1974). As fate would have it, Sanjay died in a plane crash before the two men could meet. But that serendipitous choice marked the beginning of a long relationship for Chatterjee with the Gandhi family: Sanjay’s successor in Amethi, his brother Rajiv, took to Chatterji’s low- key style, his personal integrity and, above all, his talent for discretion. After stints in Rajiv’s PMO, in the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and as OSD to Sonia Gandhi when she was leader of the Opposition, he is now in the PMO—the link between PM Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. If that was not enough to make him powerful, his stated responsibilities include an innocuous three letter word—ACC, or the Appointments Committee of Cabinet, which decides appointments of all civil servants above the rank of joint secretary. Chatterji, sources say, likes to think of himself as a "post office", but many of his colleagues believe he holds their fates in his hands.
SECTION: Society
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OUTLOOK: 23 April, 2007
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