Several IPS officers of the 1987 and 1988 batches are in the fray

The race has begun for the top posts of the two premier spy organisations—Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)—as tenures of the incumbents, Arvind Kumar and Samant Kumar Goel are coming to an end on June 30.

Among those who are in consideration for the IB chief post are 1987 batch IPS officers AS Rajan and Swagat Das and 1988 batch officers Manoj Yadav, Anish Dayal Singh and Tapan Deka. Those familiar with the workings of the domestic spy agency feel that these officers who are proficient in the field as well as good analysts may stand a good chance.

So far, the 1989 batch officers are not under consideration but if the panel decided to include them, Safi Ahsan Rizvi, Rahul Rasgotra and Vivek Srivastava can make it to the list.

For RAW, 1986 batch IPS officer S.B.S. Tomar and 1988 batch officer Ravi Sinha and Sridhar Rao maybe in the fray.

Many of the officers who are in fray are either serving in senior positions in the twin intelligence agencies in Delhi or northeast or states like West Bengal.

Key domestic and external security challenges in the next two years in the run up to the crucial 2024 Lok Sabha polls will be the main focus when the Appointments Committee of Cabinet, the top-most body consisting the prime minister and the home minister, decides the key portfolios.

On top of the list is the smooth conduct of the Assembly elections for Jammu and Kashmir, the first since the abrogation of Article 370 . The polls might be held just before the general elections, once the delimitation process is over.

The quelling of northeast insurgency, particularly bringing in a final Naga settlement and complete removal of AFSPA from northeast, is another challenge in the next two years. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s views will also matter especially since he has worked with many of these officers during his tenure as the IB chief.

As far as external challenges are concerned, Goel had aced the challenge of neutralising external threats—whether it is the Balakot operation or creating a new digital setup to counter misinformation and propaganda.

The government will be spoilt for choice since it had cleared 29 IPS officers for DG level posts in 2021. These included NCB chief Satya Narayan Pradhan, Rajnish Seth, U.C. Sarangi, S.L. Thaosen, Prabodh Kumar, Pankaj Kumar Singh, Manoj Kumar Lal, Balaji Srivastav, Sivagami Sundari Nanda and Zulfiquar Hasan.

Meanwhile, the six-month extension given to CBI Special Director Praveen Sinha on the last day of his service on April 30 “in relaxation of Rule 16(1) of the All India Services” has also triggered speculation if the government is planning to bring incumbent CBI director Subodh Jaiswal to R&AW. Sinha, a 1988 batch IPS officer of Gujarat cadre, may be considered to take over the reins in CBI, if Jaiswal replaces Goel.

But there is a catch. The government may also consider giving another extension to Goel or Kumar as there are precedents available in other agencies. Both were given one-year extension last year.