NEW DELHI: The top of India's intelligence apparatus pyramid comes up for renewal next month when both the Director Intelligence Bureau Rajiv Jain and Secretary RAW Anil Dhasmana come to the end of their extended tenures on June 29 and June 30 respectively.
While jockeying has begun, leading the race for the RAW boss's position is Samant Goel. It is a name that surfaced in the bribery case against benched special CBI director Rakesh Asthana. Samant Goel, a 1984-batch IPS officer from the Punjab cadre was co-front-runner for the RAW chief's post along with K. Ilango of the Jammu and Kashmir cadre, who was recalled from Colombo in 2015 amid controversy.
Both were special secretaries with RAW in December, 2018. Since then Illango has retired. In the ugly CBI-versus-CBI case, it was alleged that Goel tried to dilute the Moin Qureshi money-laundering and corruption investigation with the help of alleged middlemen and brothers Manoj and Somesh Prasad, who were taken into custody in the Asthana bribery case. Goel is considered close to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who had wanted to appoint him as the state police chief.
Goel had played up his role in countering the Khalistani propaganda in Europe against India to pitch in for the top job. Last year, Pakistan-backed Khalistani groups carried out the 'Referendum 2020' in the UK seeking a separate homeland for the Sikhs despite protests by the Indian government.
But he has competition from the untainted R Kumar who is senior to Goel. Kumar is special secretary like Goel but in-charge of Pakistan and Counter-Terrorism in RAW. Believed to have a spotless financial reputation, he is ex audit and accounts with postings in Bangladesh,
Nepal and Switzerland and a near-perfect track record. A 1984 RAS officer, he was selected by lateral induction after written tests and interview.
Another sound officer in the hunt is Vivek Johri IPS 1984 batch MP cadre who is also a special secretary in RAW, Cabinet Secretariat, but junior to Kumar.
As far as the new Director IB is concerned, it is believed that incumbent Rajiv Jain may well get another extension. In the eventuality that he is moved up to the National Security Council Secretariat as one of the Deputy NSAs, then Arvind Kumar, 1984 batch IPS officer of Assam-Meghalaya cadre, who is IB Special Director being reportedly peerless within the organisation is the man for the job.