Urjit Patel is New RBI Governor

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government on Saturday signaled continuity by naming Raghuram Rajan’s key deputy, Urjit Patel, as the 24th governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), according to media reports.

“Apart from continuity, what worked in Patel’s favour is his knowledge of monetary policy. Plus, he is in sync with the government’s growth aspiration,” a person close to the development said.

The announcement through a press note marks an end to weeks of fevered speculation over the replacement for Rajan, who will return to academia in the US once his term ends on September 4, bringing the curtain down on an increasingly rocky relationship with the Centre. The government unveiled the appointment on a day markets were closed, just as Rajan did in June to announce his decision not to seek a second term.

Mr. Patel who has been given three-year tenure–was selected from a field of five contenders with his predecessor, Subir Gokarn, being the other strong candidate. Also in the fray were chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian, economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das and former World Bank chief economist Kaushik Basu. Rakesh Mohan, another former RBI deputy governor, was on the original shortlist as well but opted out citing other commitments.

The race for the coveted job finally narrowed down to Patel and Gokarn–both monetary economists with experience at RBI. While Patel, a PhD from Yale, has been at RBI since 2013, Gokarn had spent three years from November 2009 before the UPA government said no to a second term.

“Gokarn was a very strong contender but the PM felt that since he has just moved to the IMF as executive director, he should not be disturbed so soon,” said a high-level source in the government. While a selection committee was tasked with shortlisting candidates, the final decision was taken by Modi in consultation with finance minister Arun Jaitley over two meetings on Thursday.