The second S K Singh Memorial Award ceremony was held at the Prime Minister's residence, 7 Race Course Road. Manmohan Singh presented the award to Tanmaya Lal, a 1991 batch IFS officer. Rahul Gandhi was present and so was the entire top brass of the Ministry of External Affairs, including minister Salman Khurshid. National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and most former foreign secretaries were in attendance too. Vice President Hamid Ansari was head of the jury for selecting the award winner. The award is unusual in that a private trust, the Jai Surendra Trust, is partnering with the Ministry of External Affairs and the prize is presented each year to a serving government officer. The importance given to the function is not just out of respect for Singh, a former foreign secretary, but because his son, Kanishka, is Rahul Gandhi's right hand man and a person to cultivate in the power-conscious Capital.
If Nitin Gadkari was the favourite of Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief, Rajnath Singh has always been close to Suresh Soni, the RSS's point person in the BJP. Singh's elevation was not so much an acknowledgement of his
potential, but a reflection of the inability of the RSS and the party to agree on any other candidate, including Venkaiah Naidu and Ananth Kumar. (Sushma Swaraj, who is friendly with Singh, shrewdly ruled herself out of the race.) For the RSS, an added plus was that Advani was opposed to his candidature since he was sidelined during Singh's earlier tenure as BJP president. Senior BJP leaders are watching apprehensively to see whether Singh promotes factionalism in the party as he had allegedly done during his last stint as party chief. A Delhi businessman who was meddling unduly in BJP affairs during Singh's last tenure is hopeful of reasserting himself under the new regime.