Ajit Doval remains NSA, given Cabinet rank
Beside protocol issues, elevating the NSA to the rank of cabinet minister has much to do with “smooth functioning and strengthening the office of NSA”, under Doval, a second senior official said, asking not to be identified.Updated: Jun 04, 2019 00:38 IST
Ajit Doval was reappointed as the National Security Adviser (NSA) to Prime Minister with the rank of a Cabinet minister for another five years. A government notification issued on Monday said “his appointment will be co-terminus with the term of the Prime Minister...He will be assigned the rank of a Cabinet Minister”.
Doval is credited for having enunciated the Pakistan policy for the first Modi-led NDA government. India introduced “an element of unpredictability,” with Pakistan, analysts said. The two cross border strikes -- in 2016 after the terror attack on the Uri Brigade’s HQ and the air strike on Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot in Pakistan after the February Pulawama suicide attack -- are the result of this unpredictability in response.
Assigning Doval the rank of a Cabinet minister was only to be expected, a senior government official said. “It is partly protocol driven,” this person added, asking not to be identified. The inclusion in the cabinet of S Jaishankar, who served as foreign secretary in the last Modi government when Doval was the NSA, is believed to be one reason for this. “You cannot have a situation where the former foreign secretary enjoys a cabinet rank but the NSA under who he worked for as foreign secretary continues as an adviser,” the officer added.
Beside protocol issues, elevating the NSA to the rank of cabinet minister has much to do with “smooth functioning and strengthening the office of NSA”, under Doval, a second senior official said, asking not to be identified. With the NSA elevated to the rank of a cabinet minister, bureaucratic delays and opposition is unlikely, this person added.
Importantly, the NSA will now have more latitude to implement the vision of the Prime Minister. “In a Westminster style of government, elevating the post of the NSA to rank of a cabinet minister empowers him. In the past, ministers have expressed unhappiness when critical events were planned and implemented through the office of the NSA,” a third senior officer who did not want to be named said.