New Delhi: Delhi lieutenant governor (L-G) Najeeb Jung resigned on Thursday in an unexpected move 18 months before his tenure was due to end. Jung, who submitted his resignation to the centre, thanked the people of Delhi and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal for their support.

A statement from the L-G’s office confirmed the resignation and said Jung was returning to his first love, academics.

Jung, a 1973-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer from the Madhya Pradesh cadre, was vice-chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia University from 2009 to 2013, before taking over as L-G from Tejendra Khanna.

Home ministry officials said they were stumped by Jung’s resignation, while adding that he had not been politically coerced into taking the decision. “We were totally surprised by the move. We did not know that this would happen. He had a meeting at the home ministry on Wednesday to discuss some matters and he was scheduled to have a meeting at North Block on Friday as well," said a senior home ministry official, requesting anonymity.

“He will continue in office till a successor is appointed and we still cannot comment on who that will be. There was no political pressure on Jung whatsoever," the official said.

While Jung’s move caught the political establishment off guard, Raj Niwas (L-G house) officials said Jung had indeed been contemplating “a quieter life" over the last few months.

“This decision is not sudden at all. He has been contemplating moving to academics for a long time now and the final decision has been taken. Although, he has yet to decide on which universities he wants to go back to—he is looking at places both in India and abroad," a Raj Niwas official said, requesting anonymity.

Jung’s stint as L-G has been fraught with tussles with the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government. While Delhi’s deputy chief minister, Manish Sisodia, set aside his differences with the L-G to wish him well, Kejriwal’s response was more guarded.

“Shri Jung’s resignation is a surprise to me. My best wishes to him in all his future endeavours," Kejriwal said on Twitter.

Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chairperson Swati Maliwal, whose appointment Jung had rejected in 2015, expressed relief.

“A black chapter for Delhi women is over. We have been freed of Jung’s tyranny. There were six rape cases reported daily and not only did he not hold a single meeting on women’s safety, but he also brutally attacked the DCW. He even failed to meet the DCW. He had even been questioned by the Delhi High Court on why there had been no meeting on women’s safety," Maliwal tweeted.

The Congress, however, was quick to sniff out a controversy. Delhi State Congress president Ajay Maken said a likely premeditated move by the Centre and the Delhi government had led to the ouster.

“We need to understand what the reason behind Najeeb Jung’s unceremonious exit is. We must also find out what the deal between Arvind Kejriwal and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is, that has led to this," Maken said.