Delhi: In a surprise move, Delhi's Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung, whose nearly three-and-a-half-year tenure was marked by frequent run-ins with Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government, on Thursday sprang a surprise by resigning from his post.
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.
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 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, as per IANS.
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.
Jung became the Lt Governor on July 9, 2013 when a Congress-led coalition was in office.
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.
In AAP's second term, the first stand-off occurred within days of Jung appointing senior bureaucrat Shakuntala Gamlin as acting chief secretary of the city government in June 2015, notwithstanding strong reservations by Kejriwal who termed the decision as "unconstitutional".
Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) became another sticking point with the body being headed by two simultaneous heads at one point, LG-appointed MK Meena and the other, S S Yadav, authorised by the AAP government.
As matters came to a head over the appointment of Swati Maliwal as Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief in July 2015, Jung proclaimed, "In respect to the NCT (national capital territory) of Delhi the Government means the Lieutenant Governor of the NCT of Delhi."
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.
It led to speculation whether his decision had anything to do with the anticipated SC judgement next month, as per PTI.
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.
However, it remains to be seen whether Jung's exit will end the bitter power struggle between Centre and Delhi government.
Only time will tell.
(With Agency inputs)