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3 shortlisted to succeed Narayanan

india Updated: Jan 16, 2010 17:16 IST
Vinod Sharma
Vinod Sharma
Hindustan Times
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Three seasoned diplomats are in the running for the post of National Security Advisor (NSA) amid strong indications that the incumbent M. K. Narayanan is on his way out. He is tipped to be sworn in as governor of an important State.

Appointments to gubernatorial slots under concurrent charge of governors from other states have acquired urgency in the run-up to the Republic Day, sources told Hindustan Times. They said Narayanan’s experience as NSA and former Director of Intelligence Bureau could be useful in the Kolkata Raj Bhawan as the CPM-ruled state fights Naxalism.

The new NSA could be from among three seasoned diplomats: former foreign secretaries Shiv Shankar Menon and Shyam Saran, and former Indian Ambassador to the United States, Ronen Sen.

“The PM hasn’t yet taken a call on Narayanan’s successor,” the sources said. Both Menon and Sen were closely associated with the formalisation of the Indo-US nuclear deal, the follow up on which is among the NSA’s responsibilities.

Currently the PM’s special envoy on climate change, Saran had an impressive stint as foreign secretary.

Barring the controversy over drafting flaws in the Indo-Pak statement at Sharm-el-Sheikh, Menon served with distinction as India’s envoy to China, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — portfolios the new NSA is likely to oversee in the PMO —before taking over as foreign secretary upon his return. For his part, Sen, known to be close to the late Rajiv Gandhi, was India’s Ambassador to the US, Russia and Germany. He also had a stint in the country’s nuclear establishment.

The UPA’s first NSA was J. N. Dixit, whose demise in January 2005 saw Narayanan, then Internal Security Advisor in the PM’ Office, handling foreign policy issues including the India-China boundary talks. Sources said Narayanan’s departure could be a precursor to the NSA focussing on foreign policy matters and home ministry on internal security.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s “New Architecture of Security” proposes changes in the reporting lines of agencies, including those accountable to NSA, under the National Counter-Terrorism Centre.

On the gubernatorial front, appointments to Raj Bhawans in Andhra, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are likely to be announced over a few days. There are good chances of Chhattisgarh governor E. S. L. Narasimhan being made permanent in his concurrent charge in Andhra. Maharashtra and Punjab governors have also completed their terms and could be replaced.