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Stage set for rejig & reachout

New Delhi, May 16: A flutter in the corridors of officialdom betrayed the tension. Sweep over, it was probably time for sweeping changes.

As the verdict became clear, sources said an overhaul of the bureaucracy at large and the security apparatus in particular was on the cards, adding the new administration under Narendra Modi might go the whole hog, from shuffling officials to taking a fresh look at disturbed theatres like Kashmir.

One of the first things, they said, Modi could do after taking over is call a meeting of bureaucrats. The next step, a former official said, could be to reach out to chief ministers.

“One of his priorities will be Centre-state relations as he believes the country should be run by the Prime Minister and chief ministers rather than by the PM and the cabinet. That will mean PM-CM cooperation on national security,” said former Union home secretary G.K. Pillai.

Modi has in the past advocated strengthening the relationship between the Centre and state governments and his opposition to former home minister P. Chidambaram’s pet project, the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), was premised on the UPA’s alleged violation of the federal spirit. Now Modi will have to follow what he preached.

The home ministry will have to play a major part in this co-operation.

Modi is known to work through the bureaucracy. So even before the results were out, a buzz in the corridors of North Block, the seat of the home ministry, laid bare the anxiety among senior officials. Sources said some of them were apprehensive that they might be shunted out.

That a revamp was on the cards had been indicated in the BJP’s election manifesto. With a new set of bureaucrats in place, the BJP government might take forward its agenda of setting up new structures.

Expectations are high from the new government. “There is a need to take a fresh look at policies related to disturbed theatres like Kashmir or the Northeast. Only money and firepower cannot work and have made the climate polluted,” said R.N. Ravi, former special director in the Intelligence Bureau.

Ravi said he would expect the new government to take a relook at the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, a much-reviled law that gives security personnel sweeping powers in disturbed areas.

At the policy level, the BJP is likely to be advised by India’s former permanent representative to the UN, Hardeep Puri, and former IB chief Ajit Doval.

Doval was widely believed to have been approached to be the new national security adviser but he has reportedly turned down the offer.

Doval’s Vivekananda International Foundation, a security think tank, however, may influence the next government’s security policies.