Let Delhi have a fresh beginning
The term of Lieutenant Governor Delhi Dr Najeeb Jung is finally going to come to an end. In an anti-climax, Jung and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government are ending their relationship on a note of harmony. Soon after Jung put in his papers, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had tweeted for the well-being of the outgoing administrator. The next day, Jung and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had breakfast together. Jung has also had a long meeting with the other senior Minister in the government Satyender Jain. It will be to the benefit of Delhi that such dialogue continues between the next occupant of Raj Niwas and Delhi Secretariat. Papers have been processed by the Union Government and sent to the President for approval for the appointment of former Home Secretary Anil Baijal as the next occupant of the colonial bungalow in the Civil Lines area of the national Capital.
Unlike Jung, who also served for some time in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Baijal is a career bureaucrat. A 1969 batch IAS officer, Baijal had served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government besides holding key positions in other ministries. He was removed as Union Home Secretary when the UPA government assumed power in May, 2004. He retired from service in 2006 as Secretary, Urban Development Ministry. He is also a former vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority, which he would now come to head as the LG is ex-officio chairman of the body. Baijal is credited with the designing and roll-out of Rs 60,000 crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by the Manmohan Singh government. The fact that he took his removal as Home Secretary in normal stead and went to launch one of better and popular programmes of the Congress government shows his professional skills. Unlike Jung, who was a Congress appointee, Baijal comes with a tag of being sympathiser of the right wing ideology. The former bureaucrat was on the executive council of the think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation, several of whose former members have been appointed to senior positions by the Modi government including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. This background could be held against him in dealing with the tricky jurisdictional issues that arise out of Delhi’s unique position as the National Capital Territory, a halfway arrangement between a Union Territory and a full-fledged State.
Jung invited remorse of the elected government for what they alleged was not allowing autonomy in functioning. In his defence the out-going administrator said that he went by the rule book and held nothing personal against the government. This may be true but the challenge before a true administrator is not just to go by the book but to also interpret the rules in the book to let the elected government work in a manner that it meets the aspirations of the people. Jung failed miserably on this count and created an impression that Raj Niwas was continuously working against the elected government. The challenge before Baijal would be to change this perception about the office.