Chandigarh-based founder director and now executive vice-chairman of the Centre for Research on Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) Rashpal Malhotra played a key role in the appointment of TKA Nair to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government assumed power in 2004, former media adviser to the PM Sanjaya Baru has revealed in his new book, The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh released recently.
Nair is now adviser to Singh, but had earlier served as principal secretary to the PM. He also held the post of Punjab chief secretary, the most powerful bureaucrat in a state.
The book claims that the Nair was not Singh's first choice, and the PM had two other officers he wanted to serve as his principal secretary. One was a Tamilian, who had worked closely with Rajiv Gandhi and the other was NN Vohra. However, both opted out of the race for the post.
"With these two distinguished officers ruled out, Singh turned to Nair, a retired IAS officer, who had worked briefly as secretary IK Gujral's PMO and had also served as Punjab's chief secretary," the book adds.
"Nair's name was strongly backed by a friend of Singh's family, Rashpal Malhotra, the now executive vice-chairman of the Chandigarh-based Centre for Research on Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID)… Nair was a member of its governing board," Baru goes on to add in the tome.
Nair, a 1963-batch IAS officer now holds the rank of the minister of state. Malhotra started his carrier as a junior administrative official at Panjab University, Chandigarh, and is now a top official at CRRID. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Nair are still members of the CRRID's governing body.