As Prime Minister Narendra Modi went on a three-nation African tour last week, during which he attended the BRICS summit, conspicuous by his absence was national security adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval. The NSA almost always travels with the PM on his foreign trips, particularly if it entails a summit as important as BRICS. However, the PM’s trip to Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa last week was an exception.

This has set off speculation in the power corridors about the possible reasons and many believe it is because of the heat on the government over the Rafale deal. Another conspicuous miss was a bilateral meeting between the Brazilian President and Modi, even though the Indian PM held one-on-ones with heads of states of the other BRICS countries.