‘Rajnath’ not in a ‘Raj’ anymore, preferred not to stay in loop
It seems ‘Rajnath’ not in a ‘Raj’ anymore as on Tuesday morning, 19th June 2018, Union home minister Rajnath Singh was sitting in his first-floor office in North Block when national security adviser Ajit Doval visited BJP president Amit Shah’s bungalow.
Two senior home ministry officials said that after some time when the BJP announced its decision to withdraw from the Jammu and Kashmir government, the home minister left his office and went to his official residence. They also added that they felt Rajnath had so far been unaware of the impending decision.
It is been reported to ‘The Telegraph’ that neither Rajnath nor the government’s interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, were unaware about the decision to dump Mehbooba Mufti.
When the BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir minder Ram Madhav announced the pullout, senior ministry officials said they were taken aback. “Forget about us, it seems even Rajnathji was not in the loop,” an official said.
Sharma the interlocutor, got in touch when BJP took decision to withdraw from the Jammu and Kashmir government, said: “I’m in Srinagar and have just learnt about it. I do not want to comment”.
Such was the discontent within the home ministry that one official went to the extent of saying: “Rajnath Singh is the official second-in-command in the government, but only on paper.”
The officials said Rajnath was perhaps the lone member in the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah immunity taking subtle shades of expression, if not different, then on multiple issues.
They specified, how Rajnath had pushed for the extension of the unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir but the Prime Minister decided to end it on Sunday following opposition from Doval and army chief Bipin Rawat. Sharma too was keen on a ceasefire extension.
“It has to be seen now how Sharma does his job as there is no government in the state,” an official said.
The national security adviser is learnt to be taking all the key decisions on internal security and Kashmir. Hence the government sources said the emergence of Doval as a power centre in the Prime Minister’s Office has effectively restrained Rajnath’s privileges.
“The NSA is PM Modi’s eyes and ears in the home ministry,” an official said.
Around 4.30pm on Tuesday, Rajnath held a meeting at his Akbar Road residence with home secretary Rajiv Gauba, IB chief Rajiv Jain and special secretary in the home ministry Rina Mitra on the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Doval too was present.
Rajnath also spoke to Jammu and Kashmir governor N.N. Vohra.
Officials in the security establishment said the Centre was planning to launch an all-out operation against militants in Kashmir.
“The governor’s rule in the state will ensure zero political interference in offensive operations. It is now clear that the government wants to go full steam ahead on its Hindutva and nationalism agenda before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” a source said.
An official spokesperson said in Srinagar that after consultations with political parties, governor Vohra had forwarded his report.
The spokesperson said the governor had asked Mehbooba to continue in office till alternative arrangements were made.
In the case of Jammu and Kashmir, the state has to be placed under governor’s rule for six months under Section 192 of the state constitution before President’s rule can be imposed. Other states come under President’s rule under Article 356 in the event of the failure of the constitutional machinery.
“The Union home ministry will forward the governor’s report to the President who will send it to the Union cabinet. It will be processed by the cabinet and a decision will be taken,” a home ministry official said.