The proposal to name a foreign policy adviser alongside a national security adviser (NSA) in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has taken a backseat due to fears of turf wars within South Block and divergent views from the ministry of external affairs.
Instead, the PMO is considering appointing a former diplomat as deputy national security advisor to help NSA Ajit Doval in foreign policy formulation and execution at the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS).
Frontrunner for the post of deputy NSA is Dr Arvind Gupta, who is currently the director general of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Analyses, a defence ministry think tank, sources said. Gupta — a 1979 batch IFS officer — retired in 2013 after serving at diplomatic missions in Moscow, Ankara and London. He also worked for nearly a decade in the NSCS and was part of the late K Subrahmanyam’s Kargil Committee report.
Subrahmanyam’s son and Indian ambassador to the US, S Jaishankar, was earlier reportedly tipped to be the foreign policy adviser. But the 1977 batch IFS officer has been asked to stay on in Washington as the government wants him to arrest the recent downslide in India-US relations as well as prepare for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit in September.
Moreover, South Block felt that the diplomat — junior by one batch to foreign secretary Sujatha Singh and by nearly a decade to NSA Doval — would be crowded out of the decision-making process since both nuclear issues and the China special representative talks would be handled by Doval.
Jaishankar is scheduled to be in Delhi this Sunday with a plan on how to revive economic linkages with Wall Street and attract investments for India.
In addition to Arvind Gupta — an expert in national security issues, foreign policy objectives and back-room driver for key initiative implantation — the name of Satish Chandra, former deputy NSA to Brajesh Mishra during the Vajpayee regime, is also doing the rounds as a possible contender for the Deputy NSA position.