The government reappointed retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Ajit Doval as National Security Adviser, according him a Cabinet rank.
He becomes the first NSA to get Cabinet status in the table of precedence.
In his previous stint as an NSA, he had the stature of a Minister of State (MoS).
According to one official, the decision was taken since Mr. Doval leads strategic dialogues with many countries and a Cabinet rank will facilitate his interactions with the most senior officials. “A case in point is China, where there has been a mismatch between him and the Special Representative for boundary talks, who is normally a State councillor of Cabinet rank. China had raised discomfort about the mismatch,” the official said.
On foreign policy
According to another official, the need to bestow a Cabinet rank on Mr. Doval was felt in the wake of the appointment of former foreign secretary S. Jaishankar as the External Affairs Minister last week. In the past, the two have differed on various issues pertaining to foreign policy.
The other civil servants in the present Cabinet like Hardeep Puri, Arjun Ram Meghwal, and R.K Singh have an MoS rank.
“His [Doval’s] appointment will be co-terminus with the term of the Prime Minister or until further orders, whichever is earlier,” an order issued on June 2 by P.K Tripathi, Secretary, ACC said.
Mr. Jaishankar, a 1977 batch IFS officer, was appointed as Foreign Secretary in January 2015 after a stint in Washington DC as India’s envoy. He retired in January 2018.
In 2016, after Chinese dissident Dolkun Isa was granted a visa (later cancelled) to attend a conference in Dharamsala, Mr. Jaishankar shot off a terse letter to the Home Ministry and Mr. Doval asking them to consult the Foreign Ministry on such matters to “better manage the political and media fallout from such decisions.”
A 1968-batch IPS officer who retired as Director, Intelligence Bureau in 2005, Mr. Doval’s appointment is the first key posting announced by the Narendra Modi government after assuming office for a second term on May 30. The NSA’s post was first created in 1998 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister.