Mumbai: The race for the deputy governor’s post at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) that will fall vacant in November when Usha Thorat retires has entered the last lap.

Anand Sinha, an executive director (ED) at the central bank, tops the list of candidates chosen by a search committee to succeed Thorat.

New role? RBI executive director Anand Sinha, who tops the list of possible candidates who may take over when Usha Thorat retires. The Hindu

The list also features H.R. Khan, another ED. V.K. Sharma, the seniormost ED, does not feature in the list.

The search panel, headed by RBI governor D. Subbarao, interviewed six EDs last Thursday. The other panel members include R. Gopalan, financial services secretary, and Govinda Rao, director, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.

According to two persons familiar with the development, the names of the shortlisted candidates have been sent to the finance ministry for approval.

The government appoints the governor and the deputy governors, of which the central bank has traditionally had four—two insiders, an economist and a commercial banker.

In terms of seniority, Sinha is third in rank among the seven EDs of RBI after Sharma and C. Krishnan. He oversees key areas such as the department of banking operations, development and supervision.

Khan, who is a relative junior—sixth in terms of seniority—oversees the department of external investments and operations, the internal debt management department, and the department of government and bank accounts.

Krishnan, seniormost among EDs after Sharma, has opted out of the race.

Six EDs, including V.S. Das, G. Gopalakrishna and D.K. Mohanty, were interviewed.

If Sinha gets the finance ministry’s nod to become the deputy governor, he will supersede Sharma, but this has happened before.

When Thorat took charge as the deputy governor in 2005, she superseded P.K. Biswas, another ED. Similarly, K.J. Udeshi became a deputy governor in June 2003, superseding K.L. Khetrapal.

The search committee was constituted following a petition filed by Biswas in the Delhi high court against the government and the governor challenging the appointment of Thorat in 2005.

Both Biswas and Thorat had joined RBI in 1972, but Biswas was placed higher on the merit list.

The high court refused to quash Thorat’s appointment, but observed that the RBI governor should make a “comparative assessment of the suitability and performance of all eligible candidates" at the time of recommendation.

Thorat, who took over in November 2005, is in charge of important portfolios, including banking regulation and supervision, currency management, rural credit, and urban cooperatives.

Shyamala Gopinath, the seniormost of the deputy governors, will retire in May.

The other two deputy governors are K.C. Chakrabarty and Subir Gokarn.