Najeeb Jung resignation: Arvind Kejriwal could consider this a victory, but should he?

In a move that has taken everyone by surprise, Najeeb Jung resigned from his position as Lieutenant Governor of Delhi. Jung, who replaced Tejendra Khanna as governor in 2013, had an ongoing tussle with the current chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, over jurisdictional powers, since the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government came into power in 2015 on the back of a landslide victory.

While on one hand Kejriwal and company might celebrate the resignation of someone they clearly couldn’t see eye to eye with, there is also a case of considering the new ‘alibi’. For all the time that Kejriwal has been in power, he has used Jung as an alibi, or quoted him as the roadblock whose presence was the reason many of his indigenous plans failed to take off or performed poorly.

 Najeeb Jung resignation: Arvind Kejriwal could consider this a victory, but should he?

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and L-G Najeeb Jung.

Before becoming governor, Jung served as the 13th Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Milia Islamia. Contrary to his academic background, and calm persona, Jung had been involved in a long running dispute with Kejriwal. Often cited as being Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s man, Kejriwal regularly accused Jung of interfering in his office’s work. The National Capital Territory of Delhi Act (1992) assigns Delhi special status as a Union Territory, the complexities from which had the chief minister and the governor at each other’s throat for almost the entire tenure that Jung was in office.

Though he had 18 months still left to serve, Jung’s resignation is set to raise eyebrows. Most questions will be targeted at the chief minister and the AAP, under whose persistent criticism Jung remained doggedly outspoken yet restricted. While any number of theories may be suggested, it has to be said that his tenuous relationship with the elected government for the capital region would be closest to an explanation.

Appointed during Sheila Dikshit's regime, Jung was a healthy reputation as an academician, something he claimed is his ‘first love’ and would love to return to, in his resignation addressed to the Centre. What is interesting is that this sudden step has a Catch-22 implication for the AAP. As Jung leaves, he not only vacates the governor’s chair, he also vacates what has been a pre-packaged excuse for the AAP's fallibilities. It is one thing to have a quiet bush to beat around, it is something else to have to plant a seed in the desert and hope it grows into something.

What is also interesting to consider is the fact that on a day when Kejriwal might celebrate a small victory, Jung’s resignation could act against him. In the run-up to the Punjab elections in particular, a governor resigning under pressure or out of protest does not send a positive signal about the Party looking to make inroads into alien political territories. Unlike Kejriwal, who made more noise than sense when he himself resigned from his first stint as the Delhi chief minister within 49 days, Jung went unexpectedly, yet quietly. In doing so he even thanked his nemesis, Kejriwal.

It will be crucial how Kejriwal reacts to this development. A calm, respectful and courteous response would be ideal and probably in-line with how Jung has acted. But he could also go the ranting route and take the blame game into its after-life where he could blame Jung for diverting attention from the pressures of demonetisation that the Centre is having to handle. While that is a political tact, and a tempting one, Kejriwal would be well advised to hold on to his horses for this one, and consider the resignation in isolation, rather than the ardous and ugly political battle it has culminated in.

Updated Date: Dec 22, 2016 18:55:56 IST