Despite rancour and rumbling from the IFS ranks, Narednra Modi government moved decisively to replace Sujatha Singh as Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs with known successful aspirant S. Jaishankar.
What Manmohan Singh government could not do last year despite preference for S. Jaishankar, the Modi government has shown the diplomats who the boss is and what he wants by virtually sacking Sujatha Singh 9 months before the end of her tenure.
While the Congress calling the timing of his appointment as “questionable” just after the departure of US President Barack Obama. “Why did the Modi government wait till US president Barack Obama’s visit to make the appointment?” Congress leader Manish Tewari asked.
Jaishankar who was Ambassador to China before beng sent to the United States due to seniority of Sujatha Singh whose appointment was more to do to please top IFS officers’ lobby, Modi showed no concern but to deftly on choosing his favourite choice.
S. Jaishankar, a Ph.D. from JNU and an IFS 1977 batch officer was also son of the renowned defence policy expert late K. Subrahmanyam. He refused to answer on the controversy over his appointment but just said, “Government’s priorities are my priorities,” and described his new position as an “honour and a big responsibility”.
Jaishankar was instrumental in arranging Modi’s September visit to the US, in easing the ties after devyani Kobragade incident. He will serve for two years but is likely to be extended, if the government desires.
Jaishankar was also one of the first Indian diplomat to have married a foreign lady, in his case, a Japanese woman. His wife died of cancer when he was serving in Japan as mission’s chief de affaires and minister in 1996.
This is the second time that any prime minister chose to sack foreign affairs secretary, the first being in 1987 of A.P. Venkateswaran by Rajiv Gandhi.