Najeeb Jung resigned as the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi today with 18 months left in his tenure, saying he wants to return to his “first love, academics”. Mr Jung’s three years in office were dogged by his constant power tussle with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government.
“Sh Jung’s resignation is a surprise to me, my best wishes in all his future endeavours. (sic)” Mr Kejriwal tweeted.
Mr Jung’s adviser Ajai Chaudhari said he was shocked too. “He resigned since he had personal reasons. He said he has worked for 45 years, now he wants to spend time with family and his grandchildren,” Mr Chaudhari told NDTV.
Sources close to Mr Jung claimed it was not a sudden decision and he had been thinking of quitting for some months.
An undated letter of Mr Jung, however, has surfaced in which he has written to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi that he would be on a private visit to Goa from December 25 to January 1. The letter, news agency Press Trust of India reported, also said the Delhi Chief Secretary will keep in touch with Mr Jung “about important developments” and when needed, seek Mr Mehrishi’s advice.
A statement from Mr Jung’s office said he thanked “the people of Delhi for all their support and affection, especially during the one year’s President Rule in Delhi, when he got unstinted support from them and which in turn helped run the administration in Delhi smoothly and effortlessly. ”
He also thanked Mr Kejriwal, who accused him of acting as the Centre’s agent.
“Despite our bitter-sweet experience, we wish him well,” Mr Kejriwal’s deputy Manish Sisodia told NDTV.
AAP leader Kumar Vishwas commented that Mr Jung probably “was controlled elsewhere” and that he had no choice in the way he navigated a hostile relationship with the elected government in Delhi.
Mr Jung is a former bureaucrat and Vice Chancellor of the Jamia Millia Islamia University.
AAP alleges that as the centre’s representative in Delhi, Mr Jung used his veto to strike down several Delhi government decisions in recent months.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had observed that “an elected government should have some power to run, otherwise the government cannot function.”
The centre and Mr Jung said because Delhi is not a state, the Lieutenant Governor has special powers, an argument accepted by the Delhi High Court which, in August, ruled against Mr Kejriwal. The court said that Mr Jung is the administrative head of the capital and has to sign off on government decisions.
Mr Kejriwal challenged that verdict in the Supreme Court, which will hear his appeal in January.
An official explained that whenever the Centre decides to remove a Governor or LG, the onus of conveying the message, asking the incumbents to put in their papers, usually rests with the Union Home Secretary.
The Delhi BJP said Mr. Jung had worked despite pressure from the Delhi government, while the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee termed it an â€œunceremonious exit.â€
Following the sudden resignation by Mr. Jung, the race for his successor seems to have begun. According to sources, former Delhi Police Commissioner during the previous NDA government, Ajai Raj Sharma is a strong contender, besides former Union Home Secretary Anil Baijal.
Another name doing the rounds is that of Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, a 1978 batch IAS officer.