Najeeb Jung’s office said that he would be returning to academics, “his first love”.
Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, whose nearly three-and-a-half-year tenure was marked by frequent run-ins with the Aam Aadmi Party government, on Thursday sprang a surprise by resigning from his post, triggering speculation whether he was asked to quit.
The sudden announcement that the 65-year-old former bureaucrat had quit took political circles by surprise since only a few days earlier he had written to the Centre that he was going on leave to Goa during Christmas and had even scheduled a meeting with Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi.
Jung’s clash with the AAP government headed by Arvind Kejriwal that frequently reached the doors of judiciary led to speculation whether his decision had anything to do with the anticipated Supreme Court judgment next month on the powers of an elected government.
He had often overruled decisions of the Kejriwal government and the Supreme Court had even observed in one of the hearings that an elected government should have some powers. Jung had invited criticism that his run-ins with the AAP government often brought governance in the capital to a standstill.
The speculation ranged between the Centre asking him to quit and the possibility of some embarrassing disclosures that could have persuaded him to put in his papers but his top aide Ajay Choudhury maintained it was purely personal.
In a brief statement, Jung’s office said he has submitted his resignation to the government and that he would be returning to academics, “his first love”. Before becoming LG, Jung had headed the Jamia Millia Islamia university as Vice Chancellor.
Mehrishi said Jung had given no indication two days ago when he had a meeting with him.
“The LG met me day before yesterday but he did not give any indication of submitting his resignation. Another meeting of mine with the LG is scheduled for tomorrow (Friday)... I have come to know about his resignation only from the media,” Mehrishi told reporters.
Jung thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his help and cooperation and Chief Minister Kejriwal for his two-year “association”.
Sources close to Jung said that his resignation has nothing to do with his acrimonious relationship with the AAP government and he was contemplating to quit for last few months.
“His decision to quit was not at all related to his relationship with the AAP government. It was purely a personal decision which he was mulling over for quite some time,” a source said.
The names of former Home Secretary Anil Baijal, Kiran Bedi and B S Bassi are doing the rounds for filling the vacancy caused by Jung’s decision.
Reacting to Jung’s resignation, Kejriwal said the decision surprised him and he was ready to work with the new Lt Governor.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party was guarded in its reaction, Congress said the Centre must explain why Jung was “unceremoniously removed and whether it was done to bring someone to the top administrative post who is ideologically close to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh”.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said despite several “bitter-sweet experiences, I can say that we have worked very well for Delhi with Jung. Good wishes for his future”.
Kejriwal has been alleging that Jung was siding with the Centre as he was eyeing the post of vice president, election for which is due in the middle of next year.
A 1973-batch IAS officer, Jung had assumed charge as 19th Lt Governor of Delhi on July 9, 2013, five months before the Delhi assembly elections.
The then chief minister Sheila Dikshit had played a role in appointing Jung to the top post in the city administration.
He had run the city for nearly one year during President’s Rule after the AAP government had quit on February 14, 2014 after a short stint of 49 days.
In the statement, his office also said “Jung also thanks the people of Delhi for all their support and affection, especially during the one year of President’s Rule in Delhi, when he got unstinted support from them and which in turn helped run the administration in Delhi smoothly and effortlessly.”
Normally governors are appointed for a five-year term but there is no fixed tenure for Lt Governors.
Born on January 18, 1951 Jung did his post graduation in History from Delhi University and later did MA in Social Policy and Planning from London School of Economics, United Kingdom.
He had joined Indian Administrative Services in 1973 and served in Madhya Pradesh government and at several key positions, including as joint secretary in the ministry of petroleum and natural gas, in the central government.
A literary enthusiast, Jung had also worked with the Asian Development Bank and the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies of Oxford University on energy-related issues.
Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said Jung’s decision appears to be his personal one, adding he served Delhi quite well.
Raising questions over Jung’s sudden resignation, Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken demanded that the Centre should explain the reasons behind his “unceremonious exit”, saying there is more to it than meets the eye.
Maken also suggested that Jung’s sudden exit may be the result of a “deal” between Modi and Kejriwal.
“We want to know whether there was any deal between Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal in the sudden resignation of Jung as he was apparently under pressure, or whether the BJP and the central government want to bring in an RSS-connected or RSS-supported person as the LG of Delhi.
“The Centre must explain the circumstances leading to Jung’s exit,” he told a press conference.
The AAP alleged Jung worked under the “influence” of the Modi dispensation and questioned whether the power tussle between the Centre and Delhi government will continue even after the appointment of a new LG.
“Modi government promotes its people. We hope he gets a better posting after this. I am unhappy that his tenure was disgraceful. Now that he has gone, good luck to him.
“Najeeb Jung’s behaviour was not his. He was under the influence of someone. We hope the next LG gives priority to issues concerning people and does not work under anyone’s influence,” AAP’s Kumar Vishwas said.