Menon emerges as front runner for NSA job

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New Delhi, Jan 16(ANI): With National Security Advisor M. K. Narayanan all set to move out from the PMO to West Bengal Raj Bhawan, Shiv Shankar Menon who retired as the Foreign Secretary last year is emerging as a frontrunner for the coveted post.

Other contenders for the NSA's post are former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, who is currently serving as PM's special envoy on Climate Change and seasoned diplomat Ronen Sen.

It is learnt that Menon is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's first choice, but final decision on who will hold this key position, which currently deals with the internal security and foreign policy at the same is yet to be taken after consultation with political leadership.

PMO insiders say that his out of the box thinking, astute understanding on neighborhood issues and moreover his rapport with the leadership of Pakistan and China is giving Menon an edge over others.

Shiv Shankar Menon's elevation to the position of Foreign Secretary by jumping the ladder of 12 postions in 2006 surprised everyone and even led to the resignation eminent diplomat Rajeev Sikri, who was considered the main contender for the post.

Menon, who is also known for being a longest serving Foreign Secretary, has remained a key negotiator in the controversial Indo-US nuclear deal and architect of Joint Anti terror mechanism which later proved flawed and lastly he also hogged headlines for bad rafting of a joint statement at Sharm-al-Shiekh.

Controversies followed Menon, but seasoned diplomat proved that he is not just a text book or theoretical civil servant who will stick to a line, but is willing to do some out of the box thinking and step out an extra mile .

Menon has done successful tenures in Pakistan and China and is a well respected name among the leadership and the bureaucracy of the two countries. Although India's relations with China and Pakistan did not remain best, Menon kept the backchannels alive

Menon's innovative might not have reaped the required results, but his style seems to have impressed the Prime Minister. Insiders also believe that Menon's arrival in the PMO could alter the periphery of the NSA as he would be purely focusing on India's security concerns vis-à-vis international developments and fine tune the foreign policy in accordance whereas internal security will be under the total control of Home Ministry already.

With the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing chiefs directly reporting to the Home Minister, speculation is rife that the Home Ministry will strengthen the department of internal security. By Naveen Kapoor (ANI)

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