Sleuths gun for top jobs: India's security chiefs are battling it out for prime positions in the CBI, IB and R&AW
By SAURABH SHUKLA
PUBLISHED: 15:55 EST, 11 October 2012 | UPDATED: 15:59 EST, 11 October 2012
They wield tremendous clout in government, mostly work behind the scenes and have unhindered access to the most powerful people in the country.
Small wonder then that a hectic race should have broken out for the top jobs in India's security establishment - the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW).
By a rare coincidence the chiefs of the three organisations will retire within a month of each other, beginning on November 30 with the retirement of A.P. Singh as CBI director. R&AW chief Sanjiv Tripathi will retire on December 31, the same day that IB director Nehchal Sandhu quits office.
The czars have begun lobbying for the posts. The stakes, by all accounts, are very high. Take for instance the CBI, the country's premier investigating agency which has often been accused of being a political tool. CBI directors have long enjoyed proximity to the powers that be.
One of the three contenders for the post is S.C. Sinha, chief of the National Intelligence Agency, who is being backed by a powerful chief minister, sources say.
A dark horse
Another contender is Ranjit Sinha, director general of the Indo Tibetan Border Police who has earlier served in the CBI and is known for his proximity to a prominent UPA leader and some Congress leaders.
Also on the shortlist is the present special director V.K. Gupta. There is a dark horse as well - Delhi's Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar, who has previously served in the CBI and is keen on the two-year term that CBI directors have. As police chief, he is scheduled to retire next summer.
There is hectic jockeying to fit into the shoes of India's top spy czars, IB director Sandhu and R&AW boss Sanjiv Tripathi. There were suggestions that Sandhu be given a year's extension, but that would have required the government to take a similar step for the R&AW chief who also enjoys a two-year term. In the end, the move was abandoned.
The top contenders to fill Sandhu's post from within the IB are V. Rajgopal, a 1976 batch UT cadre officer, and Special Director Yashowardhan Azad, who is an old IB hand and is the son of the former Bihar chief minister Bhagwat Jha Azad.
Asif Ibrahim, a 1977-batch officer, is among the contenders for IB chief. An important political functionary in the ruling party is supporting him but he will supersede five officers if he is picked for the top IB job.
Also on the shortlist is Ram Niwas Gupta, a 1976-batch officer and a special director in the IB. Azad has an advantage over the other contenders in that he retires in 2014, after the others in the race like Rajgopal and Gupta.
It is not difficult to imagine why the IB chief's post is coveted. The bureau is enormously influential, and its director has access to the Prime Minister and the home minister. Over the years the position has become even more important because the IB director has become a trouble shooter and a crisis manager for the Prime Minister. This makes the job pivotal for any government, for getting political intelligence or security- related inputs.
Top bureaucratic appointments are made after getting the IB's green light. The agency's notes carry weight, so it is logical that many aspire for the job, which is considered the top job for any officer of the Indian Police Service.
In the case of R&AW, the country's external intelligence agency, it is the access to huge funds that the chief has and the ability to act and gather intelligence abroad that makes the job exciting.
The agency - which got its glamour quotient up after the success of recent movies like Ek Tha Tiger where Salman Khan played a R&AW officer - still works in relative obscurity. Its officials carry a cabinet secretariat tag.
The race for R&AW chief is limited to two senior officers. They are Alok Joshi, a 1976-batch Haryana cadre IPS officer who is currently a special secretary in the agency and Amitabh Mathur. Mathur, who was earlier from the IPS joined R&AW administrative service. Sources say that another possibility raised in R&AW circles is that Joshi may go to IB, given his wide experience in IB and Mathur could be considered for the R&AW chief's role.
However, the likelihood is that Mathur will be posted to the Aviation Research Centre that handles surveillance for R&AW and Joshi will bag the agency chief's job.
If S.C. Sinha gets the CBI director's job, Salim Ali could be appointed as the National Intelligence Agency chief. Ali is a special director in CBI and is on the top of the list of contenders for the post.
Another change will be that Pranay Sahay, currently director general of the Shashtra Seva Bal that guards the Indo-Nepal border. He will take over as director general of Central Reserve Police Force.
Former Uttar Pradesh additional director general of police Brij Lal is being brought in as special director general. He is expected to take over after Sahay retires.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/ar ... ds-newsxml