Besides Rao and Mohan, the list of contenders includes former adviser to finance minister Parthasarathi Shome, executive director in ADB Ashok Lahiri and executive director in IMF Adarsh Kishore. The seat falls vacant after the term of governor Yaga Venugopal Reddy expires in September 2008.
The race for the office of RBI governor will gather steam after the Budget process gets over by the middle of May. The appointments committee of the Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister, would take a final decision. But key members of the government and former RBI governors are likely to be involved in the consultations.
Subba Rao is a 1972 batch IAS officer. Earlier, he was secretary to the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council. The chairman of the Council is C Rangarajan, the key economic interlocutor for the Prime Minister on issues like petroleum and gas pricing, subsidies and others.
The other top contender, Mohan, has served two stints as RBI deputy governor, punctuated by a spell as secretary, economic affairs, in the finance ministry.
Close on their heels is Shome, who was with the IMF for a number of years as director. Shome was with Icrier earlier and was also at the helm of a pathfinding report on tax policy for the 10th Five-Year Plan.
Lahiri was the chief economic adviser to the finance ministry from 2002, before he moved to Manila this year. The fifth candidate, Adarsh Kishore, served as finance secretary in North Block before switching to the IMF in 2006.
Reddy had taken over as RBI governor after Bimal Jalans tenure ended in 2003, scoring over possible contenders like Vijay Kelkar and S Narayan, former finance secretary. Kelkar has recently been appointed chairman of the 13th Finance Commission. Incidentally, while the RBI governor's is a four-year term, Reddy was appointed for five years.