New Delhi, Dec 22. In a surprise move, Delhi’s Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung, who had a running battle with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, resigned on Thursday, without any reason, leaving the city and central government and most parties taken aback.
A brief statement released by the Lt Governor’s Office did not say why the 66-year-old former IAS officer had called it quits but quoted him as saying that he would return to academics, “his first love”.
In the statement, Jung thanked both Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Kejriwal for their association with him.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party said it was his personal decision and wished him all the best, the Congress questioned if a deal was struck between Kejriwal and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Jung became the Lt Governor on July 9, 2013 when a Congress-led coalition was in office. The Modi government retained him even as it replaced most Governors in the states, raising eyebrows.
Kejriwal, who was in Ranchi, immediately telephoned Jung and later said his exit “is a surprise to me. My best wishes in all his future endeavours”.
AAP sources said Kejriwal was likely to call on Jung on Friday.
The central government, which appoints the Lt Governor, was equally taken aback.
Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi told the media that he had met Jung on Tuesday but the latter gave no inkling of his thinking.
Jung thanked the people of Delhi too for “their support and affection, especially during the one year’s President Rule” leading to the assembly elections that led to an AAP victory in February 2015.
Congress Delhi chief Ajay Maken termed Jung’s resignation as an “unceremonious exit” and asked the Central government to explain the reason behind it.
“We feel there has been a deal between the BJP and AAP because of which he has been made to leave. The central government should come out clean,” he added.
Hailing Jung’s work, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wished him all the best for his future endeavours.
Bharatiya Janata Party national secretary Sardar R.P. Singh termed Jung’s resignation as his personal decision, saying: “In his resignation letter, he has said that he want to pursue academics again, it is his personal decision. And we respect that decision.”
A former Vice Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi, Jung gave no reason for his dramatic decision to step down, not even to his official advisors.
He directly sent the resignation to the union Home Ministry through a special messenger.
His advisor Ajay Chaudhary said he and his colleagues were not aware of Jung’s move. “It was surprising,” the official told India Today news channel.
Informed sources said Jung, who could take up an academic job abroad, also wanted to spend more time with his family.
Former Union Home Secretary Anil Baijal’s name emerges as the front-runner for the post of Lt Governor in Delhi.
Speculations are also rife that former Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi could also be among the choices for the post.
Jung’s tenure was marked by a sharp escalation in tensions between his office, which reported to the union Home Ministry, and the AAP government of Kejriwal.
What began as a turf war turned into an often nasty confrontation between Jung and Kejriwal over who is the boss in Delhi, which, although a state, does not enjoy parity with other states.
The central government, through the Lt Governor, controls Delhi Police, law and order and issues related to land in the capital.
Jung made it a point to question almost every decision taken by the Kejriwal government, often declaring many of them null and void. Kejriwal repeatedly accused Jung of being “a Modi agent”.
The recurring Jung-Kejriwal battle was decided in favour of the former on August 4 by the Delhi High Court. The AAP government has moved the Supreme Court, where the matter is yet to be decided.
Jung had reportedly confident to friends that he would quit if the Supreme Court decided the turf war in favour of the Kejriwal government.