Soon after the attack on Mumbai on 26/11, one of the many states that felt the need to modernise its police force was Gujarat. For years, then-chief minister Narendra Modi had told his advisers that unless his police forces were modernised, the state’s security would continue to be vulnerable.
If his stint as the chief minister is any indication, Prime Minister-designate Modi will be looking at issues of internal security and capacity building before evolving a strategic policy that looks outward.
Some say his choice of a national security adviser will reflect the road map he has in mind on strategic and security issues as he gets ready to start his stint at the helm. This is perhaps why he chose to meet former Director of the Intelligence Bureau, Ajit Doval last Monday for an hour-long discussion on security issues.
For years, BJP party sources told Hindustan Times, Modi has grappled with creating a security matrix that is a combination of effective intelligence, better policing and effective laws. Laws have always remained controversial, with anti-terrorism laws like TADA and POTA being frowned upon for trampling on basic human rights. But police and intelligence reforms, he has stated internally, are easier to manage. That explains why the BJP devoted a segment of its 2014 manifesto to the urgent need to usher in police reforms.
“If there is one country that fascinates him as a strategic challenge, it would have to be China,” said a retired security official, who has met Modi several times. “On occasions, he has discussed ways to engage and counter China,” said a BJP insider.
“I think he summed it up best when, at a rally, he mentioned that India shouldn’t talk at or talk up to China. Instead, we should talk to China as an equal,” he added. Engaging the SAARC nations will also be a priority. “But you will probably see a prime minister more focused on China than Pakistan for the first time.”
On internal security, Modi has held several discussions on growing radicalisation among sections of minority youth. His government is likely to create a single-point agency for counter-terrorism.
The National Security Council under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) will be empowered to look at security issues and coordinate with various agencies and ministries. Sources in the security establishment say Modi will try to fix defence procurements and tie them to strategic needs to bring synergy to the moribund defence modernisation programme.
“Expect a man focused on improving internal capacities. He believes firmly that unless we have capacities in place, we will never be able to establish our world view.” Clearly, as far as road maps go, the new administration has a plan.