As the race for the post of Chairman, Railway Board (CRB) hots up, all eyes are on RS Virdhi, general manager of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), who is the senior-most among the three officers eligible for the post.
The new railways minister is expected to shortly forward the candidature of Virdhi and two other officers for approval by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC), as Vinay Mittal, the incumbent CRB, is scheduled to retire on June 30.
The Railway Board norms state that the candidate for the top post must fulfil the twin criteria of completing one year service as an open line general manager, while having two years of residual service when the post is vacant.
Member (electrical) Kulbhushan, who fancies himself in the race, is the senior-most member of the Railway Board, but will have a residual service of less than two years on July 1, when the post becomes vacant.
He hopes that the prerequisite of two year’s residual service can be relaxed to one year for a sitting board member.
In his case, the first criteria had been relaxed when he was appointed the board member on August 17, 2011. A relaxation of rules for a second time to favour his elevation as the CRB would raise eyebrows, sources say.
Besides Virdhi, the two other officers fulfilling the norms are AK Mittal, general manager of South Western Railways and VK Gupta, general manager of the Northern Railways.
Candidatures of the three individuals are likely to be forwarded for ACC approval shortly, sources said.
In the last decade, three CRBs (RK Singh in 2003, JP Batra in 2005 and Vinay Mittal in 2011) fulfilled the stipulated norms. In the case of the other three CRBs during the period, the senior-most member of the Railway Board was elevated as the CRB, as none of the officers were fulfilling the twin norms.