After days of speculation, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government on Friday appointed former Intelligence Bureau chief Ajit Doval as the country’s new National Security Adviser (NSA). Considered to be an old hand at the intelligence game whose many claims to fame include covert operations in Pakistan, Doval was said to be the brain behind the recent bilateral talks between SAARC nations soon after Modi’s swearing-in.
While announcing the appointment of Doval, a government press release said, “The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved the appointment of Ajit Doval, as NSA. 69-year-old Doval’s is the second key appointment made by Modi. The first one was of Nripendra Misra as Modi’s Principal Secretary. His appointment will be co-terminus with the term of the Prime Minister or till further orders, whichever is earlier.”
Doval’s name had been doing rounds in the power corridors ever since Modi became the PM-designate. Doval had also met Modi at Gujarat Bhavan and given him a brief on security challenges facing the country. Doval was an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the Kerala cadre who played a critical role in most internal security issues facing the nation in the past four decades.
He was also instrumental in bringing the Mizo National Front to the negotiating table and worked extensively in Punjab during the troubled times that faced the state in the 1980’s. He is also the first police officer who received ‘Kirti Chakra’, a military honour.
A 1968-batch IPS officer, Doval is known as one of the best operational brains within intelligence circles. He was India’s main negotiator with the hijackers of Indian Airlines plane IC-814 taken to Kandahar in 1999. He worked as an intelligence officer for over 33 years during which he served in the North East, Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab. Doval had also done diplomatic assignments in Pakistan and the UK and later headed the IB’s operations wing for over a decade.
Once Doval takes charge, a structural rejig of the national security secretariat is also on the cards with a deputy NSA being assigned to advise on foreign policy. Alternatively, a retired diplomat could also be roped in as an independent foreign policy adviser in the new set up at the PMO, sources said.