The speculation over who would succeed Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan got an interesting twist when a business daily reported that former RBI deputy governor Subir Gokarn met Rajan at RBI headquarters in Mumbai on Friday.
Rajan's three-year term ends on Sept. 4 and he has already expressed his intention to return to teaching after that, effectively ruling out a second term for himself at the central bank. His decision has been attributed to sharp criticism of his monetary policy, especially his single-minded focus on controlling inflation, and personal attacks by BJP Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy.
The Economic Times report cited two unidentified sources as saying that Gokarn met Rajan at the Mint Street headquarters of India's central bank. Gokarn, who was one of the four deputy governors of the RBI, was replaced by Urjit Patel in 2013. In November 2015, he was appointed the executive director of one of the boards of the IMF. Since then, he has been representing India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The meeting between Gokarn and Rajan took place amid intense speculation that has thrown up more than five names as possible successors to Rajan.
The names that have been doing the rounds even as the Narendra Modi government is yet to announce a replacement to Rajan include NITI Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya, another former deputy RBI governor Rakesh Mohan and current SBI chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya.
It was widely speculated that the BJP-led NDA government would announce Rajan's successor by July 15 but a decision is apparently yet to be made.
Rajan has been at the receiving end of BJP lawmaker Swamy's personal attacks for quite sometime, with the Harvard professor-turned-politician even questioning Rajan's loyalty to India.
Besides, some analysts have said that Rajan's focus to control inflation has come in at the cost of economic growth, an argument he debunked during a speech a few days ago.
Rajan would be presenting his last monetary policy statement on Aug. 9. The next meeting and statement is scheduled for October.