India’s home Minister has under him the world’s fifth largest armed forces. Central Para Military Forces have a combined strength of nearly eight lakh personnel — two lakh more than Pakistan’s defence strength.
P Chidamabaram, 63, takes charge of the country’s internal security in these difficult times because he has the experience and more importantly, the attitude for the job. He’s responses are sharp, quick and even lethal — as friends and foes alike would vouch — used mostly to manage the economy.
But Chidambaram has had a stint as minister of state in charge of internal security between 1986 and 1989, when separatist terrorism was at its peak in Punjab. Chidambaram nurtured the fledgling National Security Guards (NSG) into an elite force, and oversaw Operation Black Thunder in 1988 that smoked out terrorists from the Golden Temple in Amritsar. That was the NSG’s first major anti-terrorist operation.
Chidambaram is younger to Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee who could have been the other options.
A Harvard alumnus, Chidambaram’s grip over legal affairs is rare and his administrative capabilities are proven. He has been an integral part of the Congress decision-making process for most part of the last two decades. Reputedly intolerant towards wasting time and impatient to finish the work, he’s a tough boss and can be brutally plain speaking.
“After Shivraj Patil, it’s going to be shock treatment at the home ministry,” a Congress colleague said. However, controlling terrorism is certainly the biggest challenge he has ever taken up.