Mishra, a career diplomat, was Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee before he was appointed NSA. He had earlier retired as Secretary in the External Affairs Ministry after having served as India's Permanent representative to the UN. He had played a crucial role in assisting Vajpayee during the Kargil conflict in 1999.
After the fall of the NDA government in 2004 and the fading away of Vajpayee from the political scene, Mishra distanced himself from the BJP and often criticised its stand on various foreign policy issues. He also batted for the Indo-US nuclear deal when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was negotiating with Washington and attacked the BJP for opposing it.
Believed to be the most powerful man in the PMO during Vajpayee's tenure, Mishra also served as an able troubleshooter.
He joined the BJP in 1991, but quit it seven years later to become Vajpayee's Principal Secretary. He played a key role on several issues relating to domestic and international policies, including forging closer ties with China and bringing thaw in Indo-Pak relations.
He was a Special Representative for the talks with China to expedite a resolution of the border problem. In Nov 1998, he became the country's first National Security Adviser, a post he held till 23 May 2004.
A Times of India report gave an interesting anecdote about Mishra, which showed his skills in strategic affairs. After Pokhran II, the Vajpayee government had reportedly made a major blunder. In a letter addressed to then US President Bill Clinton, the NDA government had blamed China for forcing India to undertake nuclear capability tests and the US govt had leaked it to the New York Times.
It took Mishra five years to undo the damage and he was considered the man to have redefined India's equation with China and was appointed special representative to China to engage in resolution of the border problem.
From Pokhran-2 to Kashmir, and from Vajpayee's historic visit to Pakistan to engage the US in a strategic dialogue, Mishra was the key figure in the country's foreign policy and security manoeuvres.
Born on 29 Sept 1928, Mishra was ambassador and India's permanent representative in Geneva and India's ambassador to Indonesia. He was also India's permanent representative to the UN from Jun 1979 to Apr 1981. He continued with the UN, on deputation, till Jun 1987.
He was the son of Dwarka Prasad Mishra, a former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, considered a staunch politician from the Congress and very close to Indira Gandhi. Brajesh Mishra was also the uncle of eminent filmmaker Sudhir Mishra.