Doval Stays NSA, Gets Cabinet Minister Rank

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NEW DELHI — Ajit Doval, who served as the national security advisor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the previous National Democratic Alliance government, will continue in his role for another five years.

In addition to reappointing him, that too for five years, the prime minister has also given him cabinet rank “in recognition of his contribution in the national security domain”. This means Doval will be at the same level as the newly appointed minister for external affairs, S. Jaishankar, as well as home minister Amit Shah, whose domains overlap partially with the NSA’s remit.

Doval is India’s fifth NSA since the post was created by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1998. His predecessors are Brijesh Mishra, J.N. Dixit, M.K. Narayanan and Shivshankar Menon.

A 1968-batch IPS officer who retired as Intelligence Bureau chief in 2005, 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 Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved his appointment for a five-year period with effect from May 31, 2019 and it will be co-terminus with the term of the prime minister, the order said.

“During the term of his office, he will be assigned the rank of Cabinet Minister,” the order said.

This makes Doval, 74, the first NSA who has been appointed for two consecutive terms. He was appointed to the post on May 30, 2014 and given the stature of a Minister of State in September that year after the Chinese side insisted on ministerial-level talks.

During his first tenure, Doval is believed to have played a pivotal role in the surgical strikes on terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir after the Uri terror attack. He has also been widely hailed for his contribution in the national security domain, including his role during the Balakot air strike after the Pulwama attack, officials said.

Having the distinction of being the first police officer who received ‘Kirti Chakra’, a military honour, Doval will be providing his deep insight about the threats faced by the country from within and outside.

He was awarded the Kirti Chakra in 1988 for conducting anti-insurgency operations in Mizoram and bringing Mizo insurgent leader Laldenga to the negotiating table by winning over six of his seven commanders. He had also clandestinely entered Myanmar and China to break the dominance of Mizo insurgent outfit.

It has become the practice for the heads of the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing to brief the NSA on a daily basis, even though the nodal minister for the IB is the home minister. Whether this arrangement changes with Amit Shah now in North Block remains to be seen.

Doval spent most of his career in the Intelligence Bureau, including serving as the bureau’s chief. After retirement, he aligned himself with the the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Several reports have suggested that Doval continues to maintain close to the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. In January 2018, opposition parties had alleged that the NSA broke regulations to attend a BJP election meeting.


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