AJIT DOVAL; MY PERCEPTION…
Though I know Ajit Doval, the current N.S.A., from my days in the Intelligence Bureau, Government of India, but I was never close to him. In fact because of some reasons, a certain amount of negativity had come to exist between two of us. It was unfortunate that this coldness remained even when I returned back from deputation to Government of India where I had served, for about a decade, in different organisations and ministries. Even after my return to the state of Punjab, from where on account of some differences with the then Government, I was unceremoniously thrown out on deputation in early 1980s, I continued to be sent to Delhi to attend various meetings. I remember several such meetings held in Delhi when Ajit Doval was the D.I.B., Director Intelligence Bureau. D.I.B. is one of the most coveted posts and incumbent thereof is one of the most important advisers to the Prime Minister of India. Though the position of the incumbents was subsequently a bit diluted with the institution of the post of the NSA, National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister; but again being a full-fledged adviser to the Home Minister of India, office and the post of D.I.B. remains immensely enviable.
Oh I am sorry for having lost the thread. You will have to pardon me for not getting younger day by day. I was talking about the days of Ajit Doval as the D.I.B. and my relations with him. Whenever I attended a meeting presided over by him, most of my participating colleagues used to bombard me with stupid questions trying to probe the 'negativity' between him, a very senior officer and a pesky junior like me. I had never realized that the negative vibes between us were so damn predominant.
Ajit Doval had a comparatively short tenure as the D.I.B., but even after his retirement I kept hearing about the really great job he continued doing, taking immense personal risks. I must admit that certain amount of negativity and differences between us, not withstanding, I have great regard for his original thinking, his guts and courage. And this regard exists even today, despite my personal view of him as a 'practical man'. He has been a great intelligence operator and a master of the game, perhaps the best that I know of. Though he has a number of successful operations, both during service and after retirement to his credit but had at least one of his particular post retirement operations which seeded in middle east, succeeded; the fate of India would have changed for better and for all times to come.
Despite being a successful intelligence man, he had only one minor negative point and that is his reluctance to work as a team and of remaining a bit closed and unapproachable. This disqualification damaged him a lot while in service. But I think that with time one gets wiser and changes accordingly. With the establishment of the Vivekananda Foundation, he certainly changed for better. Here, unlike the previous times, he probably was 'the first among equals'. He had succeeded in collecting the cream from among intellectuals and thinkers from across the spectrum, from all walks of life and services etc. And it contributed to his rise and success. The Government of India is practically being run by this foundation because a number of its members are not only aiding and advising the prime minister but are also holding key potions.
The other day while in a book store, I came across a book, “The Modi Doctrine". While glancing through the book, I could 'see' Ajit Doval’s thinking almost everywhere. Again, the age old negativity between us notwithstanding, I appreciate his both so-called ‘failed’ and successful polity. But I do not think that any of his ‘polity’ had really failed. His major failure was alleged to be Narendra Modi's co-called ‘flop’ surprise visit to Pakistan to felicitate Nawaz Shareef. But in retrospect it has paid dividend in the sense that it showed India's sincerity towards normalization of relations with the rogue country, Pakistan.
And one of his best current strokes appears to be Indian 'decision’ (read threat) to 'review' 56 year old Indus Water Treaty instead of going in for an outright war with Pakistan.
(This 'decision', read threat, itself is fraught with several 'possibilities'. I will try to write separately about them in coming days...)
My very best wishes to the N.S.A....