MHA to be bifurcated?

The all-powerful Ministry of Home Affairs may lose some of its sheen in the new Narendra Modi government with consultations on to bifurcate it and take out the crucial Internal Security department to bring it under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

This proposal, which the security experts gave thumbs up, is the only one that runs contrary to Modi’s plans of amalgamating key infrastructure ministries and make his Cabinet a sleek one.

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If the proposal goes through, sources said, the control of intelligence agencies and NIA will be under the new mechanism. A Minister of State may be brought in to handle the new wing and he will be made to report to the Prime Minister.

A final call is yet to be made but the consultations are on in this issue, sources said. If the proposal goes through, the speculation is that former Home Secretary R K Singh, a BJP MP, may fit in the bill as the MoS (Internal Security).

“During times like these, a Minister in charge of internal security should not be worried about freedom fighters’ pension and all. He should be focussed on his job and a separate internal security minister is a logical necessity,” Ajai Sahni, Executive Director of Institute of Conflict Management, told Deccan Herald.

However, he was not enthusiastic about putting the new ministry under the PMO, saying putting everything in its control may clutter its functioning.

Former BSF Director General Prakash Singh said a minister who understands the challenges of internal security should be made its in-charge. “It should be bifurcated as we do not have a superman to lead Home Ministry,” he said.

The present Home Ministry apparatus has six departments under which there are 20 divisions.

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The Department Internal Security deals with monitoring of ISI activities, Home Secretary-level talks with Pakistan, insurgency, terrorism, naxalism, terrorist financing, rehabilitation, paramilitary forces, IPS cadre and law and order among other issues.

Once the internal security department is shifted out of the Ministry, it will not have the glamour quotient attached to it. The residuary Ministry will handle issues related to disaster management, official language, freedom fighters’ pension, police modernisation, human rights and judicial services.

This is not the first time that this proposal is mooted as P Chidambaram, during his tenure as Home Minister in the UPA-I and UPA-II had advocated it.

Chidambaram, who was MoS (Internal Security) in Home Ministry during the Rajiv Gandhi government, had in December 2009 mooted the idea, saying a separate Ministry should deal with subjects not directly related to internal security.

In 1986, Chidambaram was drafted in as MoS (Internal Security) to assist the Home Minister Buta Singh after Arun Nehru was moved out of the home ministry. During P V Narasimha Rao’s time, Rajesh Pilot similarly assisted SB Chavan.

However, this is the first time that such a mechanism being brought under the PMO.

(PS: The news report appeared in Deccan Herald on May 25, 2014)

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