ENDING MONTHS of a bitter stand-off with the AAP government, Najeeb Jung resigned Thursday afternoon as Lt Governor of Delhi, more than 18 months before his term was to end in July 2018. Jung offered no reason for his resignation, with his office stating that he would be returning to “his first love, which is, academics”.
Confirming his resignation, a press release issued at 4 pm by Jung’s office stated: “He thanks the Hon’ble Prime Minister for all the help and cooperation he received during his tenure… (and) the people of Delhi for all their support and affection, especially during the one year’s President Rule in Delhi.”
Despite his acrimonious relationship with the AAP government, Jung also thanked Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal “for his association in the last two years”.
Sources said that Jung had considered resigning at least two months ago, after the Delhi High Court in August reiterated that the L-G was the administrative head of Delhi.
They said that his resignation was not linked to the running feud with Kejriwal, referring to the controversial tenure during which the AAP accused the L-G of causing roadblocks in governance, including in the appointment of bureaucrats, effecting new legislation, overruling decisions and the setting up of a committee to review 400 files cleared by the government. Jung is currently in talks with various universities and institutions to identify a suitable option, said sources.
Officials at the Centre said that Jung has met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi two days ago but did not give any indication that he would quit.
“The L-G met me on Tuesday and had a discussion for nearly half-an-hour but he did not give any indication of submitting his resignation. Another meeting of mine with the L-G is scheduled for Friday,” said Mehrishi.
Ruling out the possibility that the Centre was unhappy with Jung’s performance, central government sources indicated that the sudden move could be linked to fatigue and the constant bickering with AAP.
Home Ministry officials said they are yet to process Jung’s resignation, which will be placed before President Pranab Mukherjee who will act on the advice of the council of ministers. Among the options being discussed is to give additional charge to an alternative till a suitable replacement is identified.
“Given the fact that President Mukherjee is on a 10-day visit to the southern states, the government may give additional charge to any of the other L-Gs,” said a home ministry official.
In the national capital, the L-G reports to the Union Home Ministry and looks after Delhi Police.
Kejriwal described Jung’s move as “a surprise”. “Sh Jung’s resignation is a surprise to me. My best wishes in all his future endeavours,” he posted on his official Twitter account.
Later, speaking to reporters after addressing a rally in Ranchi, he said, “I came to know (about the resignation) from the media and I spoke to him. He told me that he had resigned due to personal reasons.”
Asked about his contentious relations with Jung, Kejriwal said, “Khatta-meetha toh chalta hi rahta hai zindagi mein (Bitter-sweet things keep happening in life).”
Asked about the various allegations he had previously levelled against Jung, Kejriwal said, “He has now resigned. Let us see who replaces him. I wish that whoever is the new L-G, we will all work together for the development of Delhi.”
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia posted on Twitter: “Bitter-sweet experiences, I can say that we have worked very well for Delhi with Jung. Good wishes for his future.”
The mood in the BJP was mixed, however, with leaders like R P Singh saying that Jung had “performed well”, while others like MP Udit Raj maintaining that Delhi would be served better with another Lt Governor.
The Congress, meanwhile, demanded answers from the Centre on Jung’s resignation and alleged that he was “unceremoniously removed”.
A 1973-batch IAS officer, Jung had assumed charge as Delhi’s 20th Lt Governor on July 9, 2013, five months before the Delhi Assembly elections. Jung has worked with three governments — Congress under Sheila Dikshit in 2013, the AAP-Congress government for 49 days and the AAP again in February 2015 — and administered Delhi under President’s Rule in 2014.
Born on January 18, 1951, Jung pursued a Masters in History from Delhi University and went to study Social Policy and Planning in Developing Countries at London School of Economics, UK. He was also the vice-chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, which became the first central university in the country to attain minority status with 50 per cent reservation for Muslim students during his tenure. Jung had a year and-a-half left in his tenure at Jamia when he was appointed L-G of Delhi.