Najeeb Jung's future as L-G still a matter of speculation, but his legacy is secure

Najeeb Jung stands in contrast from the rest of his peers occupying Raj Bhavans in the different states and Union Territories of India.

His surprise resignation from the coveted post of lieutenant governor of Delhi has given him a certain moral halo — he is the one who, through his conduct, endeared himself to two successive regimes at the Centre, fought a bitter battle with the elected chief minister of Delhi, and ensured that the National Capital Territory of Delhi ran as per its unique half-state Constitutional provisions. And when he thought he has had enough and it was time to rejuvenate and take a break before accepting the next assignment, he chose to quietly hang his boots.

But then the big question still remains: Will the Narendra Modi government let him go? It has been 24 hours and there is still no word on whether the Centre has accepted his resignation. That again is something unusual.

 Najeeb Jungs future as L-G still a matter of speculation, but his legacy is secure

Najeeb Jung and Arvind Kejriwal. PTI file image

If he is asked to stay back, one cannot be sure how would Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and deputy Manish Sisodia will react. A number of retired bureaucrats, who had begun aspiring for Jung's vacant Raj Bhavan residence, may also be disappointed. But as of now, it's still all in the realm of speculation.

And while all this was underway, Jung met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But there is still no word from the PMO on whether Jung's resignation has been accepted, letting off a series of speculative assumptions.

The soft, suave and sombre Jung had enough steely resolve to take on Kejriwal and his entire Aam Aadmi Party government on issues of propriety and constitutionality, and did so without ever uttering a wrong word or inappropriate personal conduct in public. Jung was, for the two-and-a-half years the Modi government has been in power, a one-stop solution for all issues regarding NCT.

In the words of a senior NDA minister, spoken in a private conversation, Jung was an "asset" to the Centre in every way possible. He is a Muslim, was appointed by the UPA government, is an able administrator who performed his role admirably, and fought and won against Kejriwal with finesse. Bitter fights between top authorities are usually marked by crudeness, but in Delhi, it was Jung's cool demeanour which spoke.

He was appointed in July 2013 by the then Manmohan Singh government at the Centre. But while several other UPA appointed governors were given their marching orders by the new Narendra Modi regime, Jung was left untouched. It was as if he was never appointed by UPA at all!

Governors or lieutenant governors usually make headlines only when they are sacked by an incoming regime, or when they commit some outlandish act in contravention to Constitutional protocol. Appointment of a governor is big news only for those concerned, not the public at large. Jung, however, is a different case; his tenure, appointment, continuance and departure would all be discussed for a long time to come, and even be cited as a case study by students of Indian politics.

The question of why he resigned, 18 months before his tenure was to end, is something we don't know yet. Those in the media and in political circles will all wonder why the comforts of Raj Bhavan and the position of the ruler of Delhi (not chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, as per a high court verdict) weren't exciting enough to stick to the chair he occupied. It's hard to digest the fact that he might have done so voluntarily, without being pushed away.

But the manner in which Jung and Kejriwal parted ways would be heartening; two men who had fought bitterly to protect their respective turf put on a rare display of civility, buried the hatchet and walked away. Jung invited Kejriwal for breakfast, and the latter left his residence on a happy note. Deputy chief minister Sisodia also met the outgoing lieutenant governor and spoke of happy memories, with no trace of the bitterness that marked their last two years.

Jung comes from a royal lineage. He's studied at the best institutions in India and abroad, joined the Indian Administrative Service, and left it mid-way to follow better pursuits, dabbled in academics as vice-chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, before finally taking up the lieutenant governor role in 2013.

If Jung does leave, he would do so on a healthy note, having made friends with the current dispensation at the Centre, with those whose preferences matter. What comes next would be a matter of speculation, not so much about what he does to relax, but to see what the government may offer him in the future.

But if he stays, things would in any case be different. In any case, Jung, like his forefathers, has reserved a place in history for himself.

Updated Date: Dec 23, 2016 15:53:34 IST