With Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung taking political circles by surprise with his resignation, the Centre has started taking speedy steps to finalise a name that will replace Jung at the top office in the capital.
Najeeb held a meeting of longer than one hour Prime Minister Narendra Modi this afternoon at the PMO. According to TV reports, the government has kept his resignation in abeyance.
Speaking to reporters, Jung claimed that he wanted to quit in 2014, but Modi urged him to carry on. Jung added that he requested the Prime Minister to relieve him after three years as Delhi L-G.
While clarity eludes the reason behind Jung’s abrupt decision with 18 months still to go into his tenure, the government is believed to be discussing names for Jung’s replacement.
Reports suggest that the government may announce Jung’s successor soon with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh reportedly discussing names last night when they met at the farewell dinner of military Chiefs.
According to reports, retired bureaucrat Anil Baijal, who was Home Secretary in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, is the frontrunner for the post of Lieutenant Governor, which fell vacant yesterday after Jung’s abrupt resignation.
Baijal had been a member of the executive council of the Vivekananda International Foundation, a New Delhi-based think-tank that had many of its fellows appointed to senior positions in the Narendra Modi government. The 1969 cadre IAS officer retired in 2006, when he was the Chief Secretary in the Urban Development Ministry.
Another name which is doing the rounds in media is KJ Alphonse, whose appointment as Chandigarh's administrator was scrapped amid controversy. Alphons, a Kerala cadre officer, is known for the demolition of illegal structures during his stint as the chief of Delhi Development Authority (DDA).
The 1979 cadre IAS officer, upon retirement in 2006, switched to politics. He got elected in the Kerala assembly in 2006 from Kanjirappally. Alphons joined the BJP in 2011 and is currently a member of party’s national executive.
Among other names which are rumoured for the post include BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, former Delhi Police commissioner BS Bassi and senior politician Ashok Pradhan.
Meanwhile, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia, who were locked in a running battle with Jung for a long time, today separately met the LG at Raj Niwas.
Speaking to reported outside the official residence of Jun, Kejriwal said that the 65-year-old had not given him any new details for his decision.
"He told me that he is resigning due to his personal reasons," he said.
Sources close to him said that his resignation has nothing to do with his acrimonious relationship with the AAP government over matters of jurisdiction and he was contemplating to quit for last few months.
Jung, a former IAS officer from the Madhya Pradesh cadre, resigned yesterday without citing reasons. He resigned with one and a half years left for his term.
Jung became the Lt Governor on July 9, 2013 when the Congress-led UPA was in power. The Narendra Modi government retained him even as it replaced most Governors in the states. He is also a former Vice Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi.