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PMO, Advani grapple over next RAW chief
Josy Joseph in New Delhi | March 11, 2003 22:55 IST
The cold war between the Prime Minister's Office and Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani has reared its head yet again over the appointment of the next chief of the Research and Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence agency.
RAW chief Vikram Sood is retiring on March 31 and attempts to find his successor are yet to succeed, as Advani and the PMO under Brajesh Mishra are yet to find common ground.
Among the proposals being discussed is an unconventional one floated by those close to Advani, to move Intelligence Bureau chief K P Singh as head of RAW.
Unconventional because the IB is a much bigger and more influential agency (in India) than RAW.
While the fight appears to be over the RAW chief's post, what is left unsaid is that the change would create a vacuum in the IB, which the Advani camp is keen to fill.
The IB is expected to play a crucial role in the next couple of years in view of some crucial polls, including the general elections in April next year.
This reason alone will ensure opposition to any proposal mooted by the Advani camp, which argues that Singh's appointment would take care of the main concern among RAW officers and others in contention for the top job, that of seniority being ignored for the crucial appointment.
K P Singh is a 1966 batch IPS officer and the other contenders are either of his batch or junior to him.
This is being seen as Advani's way of getting his nominee to head the IB as K P Singh, appointed as IB chief two years back, is seen as a PMO nominee.
The Advani camp suggests that Ajit Doval could take over from K P Singh at the IB.
A special director at the IB, Doval is among India's finest intelligence hands. A 1968 batch Kerala cadre IPS officer, he has been associated with the fight against terrorism since the eighties.
Doval's name is also doing the rounds for the RAW chief's post, but his appointment could create much heartburn because the other contenders are senior to him.
Among the other contenders are B S Bedi, who joined RAW from the army in the early 70s and now heads its Aviation Research Centre. From the 1966 batch, Bedi has only a few months left in service.
The other contenders from within RAW are senior officers C D Sahai, Jyoti Sinha and Amar Bhushan, all from the 1967 batch of the IPS.