With Sushil Kumar Shinde taking over from P Chidambaram as Home Minister, National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon's power has grown. Chidambaram has asserted the authority of the home minister to insist that he preside over a daily morning meeting with the heads of the Intelligence Bureau, RAW, the NSA and the home secretary. When Shinde took over, he did not continue the practice and had to be prodded by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to do so. Even then, unlike in the past when Chidambaram would brief the PM about developments on the internal security front which came up at the meeting, it is now Menon who usually reports back to Singh on home affairs, and not Shinde.
No joint press meets
Several heads of state visiting India in recent months wanted to address the local press jointly with the Prime Minister. However, the PM has been reluctant because he does not want to comment on several contentious issues which have been in the news of late. The Ministry of External Affairs has consequently declined to hold joint press conferences, to the dismay of many foreign heads including Afghan President Hamid Karzai and British Prime Minister David Cameron. French President Francoise Hollande was so anxious to meet the Indian press that he ignored convention and the French Embassy organised a press conference on its own at short notice.
Not SPG's domain
One of the curious aspects of the AgustaWestland helicopter deal is the role of the SPG. Since these helicopters were to be used by SPG protectees, it is understandable that the force would want to give a list of specifications for safety requirements. But then SPG director B V Wanchoo's trip to Italy for a fortnight on official work so that he could get to visit the helicopter headquarters appears to have been unnecessary. It is IAF pilots and flight experts who provide essential inputs on technicalities concerning flying and maintenance of helicopters. Wanchoo, who is close to the Gandhi family, is now governor of Goa and, it has been argued, he cannot be questioned about the deal as he is a