Najeeb Jung said he had resigned as he wanted to return to academics, that was his ‘first love’.
New Delhi: Delhi’s lieutenant governor (L-G) Najeeb Jung resigned from his post in a sudden move on Thursday, ending a 42-month eventful tenure, mostly marked by a bitter power struggle with the AAP government that frequently derailed governance in the national capital.
His resignation — 18 months before his five-year tenure was to end in 2018 — caught many, including the Delhi chief minister and the Union home secretary, by surprise. The 65-year-old said he wanted to return to academics, his “first love”.
Mr Jung thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his help and cooperation and CM Arvind Kejriwal for his “association”. A brief statement issued by his office also said: “Mr Jung also thanks the people of Delhi for all their support and affection…”
Soon after Mr Jung put in his papers, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari met Union home minister Rajnath Singh. In Delhi, the L-G reports to the Union ministry, and exercises control over law and order, land and transfer and posting of senior bureaucrats.
The L-G has had to reverse several decisions taken by the Delhi government, saying he had not been consulted. The AAP has maintained that Delhi’s elected government should have a greater say in governance matters. It moved the Delhi high court, which said in August that the L-G was the city’s administrative boss.
The Supreme Court, which is hearing the case now, said about a week ago that the Delhi government should have some powers to be able to function. The court listed the matter for final disposal on January 18.
Union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said that the L-G met him two days ago but did not give any indication that he would quit. Later in the evening, Mr Mehrishi held a meeting with Delhi’s chief secretary M.M. Kutty.
Mr Kejriwal said the decision had surprised him. His deputy Manish Sisodia said, “Despite several bitter-sweet experiences…we have worked very well for Delhi with Jung.” Both extended their best wishes to Mr Jung.
While speculation was rife that Mr Jung could be elevated with a posting at the Centre, one of his close aides told this newspaper that after working for 45 years he wanted to spend time with his family.
The Congress said that the Centre must explain why Mr Jung was unceremoniously removed, and whether it was done to bring someone to the top administrative post who is “ideologically close to the RSS”.
Delhi BJP leader Vijender Gupta however claimed that Mr Jung had “expressed” his displeasure with the Kejriwal government on Wednesday. “He was upset with the AAP government stalling work. But we did not foresee this (his resignation). He told us that he was going on a weeklong leave. Delhi needed him,” he said.
Sources however said that Mr Jung’s resignation had nothing to do with his acrimonious relationship with the AAP government, and he had been contemplating to quit for the last few months.
A 1973-batch IAS officer, Mr Jung assumed charge as Delhi’s L-G in 2013. He was then was serving as Jamia Millia University’s vice-chancellor. He ran the city single-handedly for nearly one year after the AAP government quit in February, 2014.