Former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Ajit Doval, whose many claims to fame include covert operations in Pakistan for several years, is the frontrunner for the post of the National Security Advisor (NSA). His first assignment could well be overseeing the bilateral talks that are planned on Tuesday with visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Doval, who has taken part in several important assignments including negotiations to secure the release of hostages during the Kandahar hijack, could be appointed as early as Monday itself, after Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi is sworn in. It is believed that his appointment could be expedited so that he can engage directly with Sharif’s Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
Doval, who currently heads the Vivekanand International Foundation, is believed to be already working with senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to work out talking points and the agenda for Modi’s bilateral meeting with Sharif on Tuesday.
While there is no final word yet, a structural rejig of the national security secretariat is likely, with a Deputy NSA being assigned to advise on foreign policy.
Alternatively, a retired diplomat could be roped in as an independent foreign policy advisor in the new set-up at the Prime Minister’s Office.
The least number of women candidates have been fielded by the Congress which has given tickets to just five women contestants.