By re-appointing Ajit Doval as National Security Advisor with the rank of a cabinet minister – he will be the first NSA to hold this rank — Prime Minister Narendra Modi has firmly indicated that national security is a top priority of his government and not merely a vote-catching slogan.
Doval, a retired 1968 batch IPS officer, has served longest in an operational wing of the Intelligence Bureau with postings in Islamabad and London. His reappointment is for five years till 2024.
This government order brings Doval at par with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, both of whom had the rank of secretary in the Modi 1.0 regime. The promotion of Doval translates into a recognition of the security and intelligence community with the legendary spymaster commanding the respect of India’s armed and para-military forces as well as the intelligence, nuclear and space research community.
Top Modi government sources confirmed that Doval was apprised of this re-appointment as NSA by PM Modi over the weekend after his friend and former foreign secretary S Jaishankar was made the External Affairs Minister.
With Amit Shah as Home Minister and Rajnath Singh as Defence Minister, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) will have a surfeit of national security experts.
While the Modi government is tight-lipped over its national security objectives, NSA Doval has a proven record in counter-terrorism with planning and execution of the Uri surgical strikes and the Balakot air strikes under PM Modi’s leadership to his credit.
Although the principal job of Doval will be to advise PM Modi on security issues, he will also play a coordinating role between the armed forces and the intelligence community for a cogent military response to any threat. Doval and Jaishankar have proved their mettle together in the 2017 Doklam stand-off when they decided on response to the aggressive PLA within 30 minutes of the information reaching the PMO. Both the principals are strong votaries of independent foreign and national security policy for India and are opposed to terror and talks going on simultaneously.
While NSA Doval will act as a bridge between the home and defence ministries, the main focus of the new Modi government will be the stabilization of Kashmir, uprooting Maoists, preventing the rise of Punjab militancy and finding a long term solution to the internal security issues in the North-East.