Former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Ajit Doval —architect of BJP’s national security vision in its poll manifesto and the man behind invites to Saarc leaders for Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony — was on Friday appointed the national security adviser to the Prime Minister.
Doval — a 1968-batch Kerala cadre IPS officer who retired as director of IB in 2005 — was currently heading the strategic think tank Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF).
Talking to HT after taking over as NSA, Doval said, “In the security domain, it does not matter who you are. The test lies in how you respond to situations.” HT had reported on May 20 that Doval may be India’s next NSA.
A strategic thinker, Doval — a celebrated master spy — is the only police officer to be awarded the Kirti Chakra military medal. He has served in Mizoram, Punjab, Pakistan and the United Kingdom and is known for back-channel diplomacy for the resolution of the Kashmir issue.
Doval’s appointment came a day after he met the PM to discuss Indo-China relations.
The meeting was in the backdrop of Premier Li Keqiang’s Thursday telephonic conversation with Modi and President Xi Jinping’s impending visit later this year. With both Xi and Modi known to be strong nationalist leaders, preparations have already begun for the PM’s meeting with the Chinese President on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brazil on July 15.
Trusted by Sangh Parivar, finance minister Arun Jaitley and home minister Rajnath Singh, Doval has also worked behind the scenes for Modi and the BJP since his retirement from IB.
“It was between Modi, Jaitley and Doval that the decision to invite Saarc leaders for the May 26 ceremony was taken. Doval, present IB director Asif Ibrahim and foreign secretary Sujatha Singh worked behind the scenes to ensure that the bilateral talks between Modi and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif went on without any controversy,” said a senior BJP leader.
A quintessential back-room operator, Doval is held in high regard by the security and intelligence establishment for his approach to counter terrorism against India. He wrote a definitive paper on Chinese intelligence last year for VIF and has been working to counter Islamic radicalization in India with the help of leading Muslim intellectuals.
Having functioned as operations chief of IB for no less than eight years, Doval penetrated the Indian underworld and jihadists to pre-empt attacks on India. He was also the man behind the rescue of abducted Romanian diplomat Liviu Radu from Delhi by Khalistani terrorists in the 1990s, Operation Black Thunder in 1988, and was the main Indian negotiator during the 1999 Kandahar IC-814 hijack.