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NSA Doval calls on Shah before split

Ajit Doval. File Picture

New Delhi: National security adviser Ajit Doval drove to BJP chief Amit Shah's Akbar Road residence on Tuesday morning hours before the party announced its divorce with Jammu and Kashmir ally Mehbooba Mufti.

While there was no official word on what the ruling party boss discussed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's key bureaucrat, it highlighted yet again Doval's importance in the current dispensation.

Sources in the government and the BJP said the decision to pull down the Mehbooba government was linked to security operations in the troubled Valley, as also the BJP's political objectives, so Shah and Doval would have exchanged notes when they met.

Doval had also met Shah on Monday and sources said that meeting too was related to Kashmir.

Doval is a retired IPS officer who has served as the Intelligence Bureau chief. In the corridors of power, he is seen as the "de-facto home minister" and sometimes even the defence minister. At times he has courted controversy with his presence at political meetings of the BJP.

In January this year, Doval had found himself at the centre of a storm when he participated in a strategy meeting at home minister Rajnath Singh's house ahead of Assembly elections in the Northeast. The CPM then had slammed the BJP and asked the home minister to clarify the government's stand on Doval's presence at the political meeting.

The home ministry had later issued a statement saying Doval came for a meeting on internal security, not for poll-related discussions.

Amit Shah

The Opposition on Tuesday raised questions over Doval visiting the BJP chief before the party announced the decision to pull out of the PDP-led government in Kashmir. "The national security adviser is supposed to brief the Prime Minister and the home minister. He is not expected to discuss political matters with party leaders. What has happened is clearly not in order," R.P.N. Singh, Congress leader and former junior home minister, told The Telegraph.

The BJP repeatedly accused former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi of acting as an "extra-constitutional authority" when Manmohan Singh headed the UPA government but leaders of the ruling party refused to comment on Doval's meeting with Shah. "Is it such a big deal? Why do you want to make an issue out of it?" a BJP spokesperson said.

"We want to know, the country wants to know what talks took place when the NSA met the chief of a political party? Why did the NSA only meet the ruling party (chief) and not all political parties?" AIMIM chief and MP Asaduddin Owaisi asked.

National security advisers have, in the past, briefed Opposition leaders on important security matters concerning the country but not exclusively one leader and that too the chief of the ruling party.

M.K. Narayanan, the national security adviser in the UPA I government, had briefed senior BJP leader L.K. Advani on the India-US nuclear deal and other national security matters.

Former police bosses had a mixed opinion on Doval calling on Shah. "Normally, officials brief or go to the minister concerned. If the matter is very important in a state, the respective DGP may go directly to the chief minister. I am not sure what the NSA does but normally he would brief the Prime Minister," former Madhya Pradesh police chief Nandan Dube said.

But Ved Marwah, former DG, national security guard, said there was "no such constitutional bar" that restricts the NSA from meeting a party chief. "Since Modi and Shah are the two most important people in the government, the NSA was doing his duty. He (Doval) must have been called since he is aware of the ground situation in Kashmir," he said.

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