Even as newly elected Northern Province chief minister Canagasabapathy Viswalingam Wigneswaran is embroiled in an imbroglio with the Northern Governor GA Chandrasiri over the question of exercising authority in the province,sections of the Tamil National Alliance(TNA) are reportedly engaged in surreptitious moves to dislodge the former Supreme court Judge from his post and replace him with present council chairman CVK Sivagnanam as chief minister.
It is reliably learnt through informed sources that an ambitious clique within the TNA is involved in clandestine manoeuvres to garner the support of at least 21 Northern provincial councillors elected from the TNA on the house symbol of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi(ITAK)for the move to remove CV Wigneswaran and replace him with CVK Sivagnanam. The TNA has thirty of thirty-eight members in the Council including the two bonus seat appointees.
The preliminary phase of the plan is to present a resolution at the Northern provincial council censuring Wigneswaran and call for a vote of no confidence in the chief minister.Once the vote of no confidence is passed with more than two-thirds of the 30 TNA councillors supporting it, the conspirators expect Wigneswaran to resign as chief minister of his own volition and honourably fade away.This will be followed by another resolution expressing confidence in the current council chairman CVK Sivagnanam and urging him to accept the chief ministership .Thereafter the TNA provincial councillors are expected to convene and formally elect Sivagnanam as chief minister. The TNA working committee will be expected to ratify the decision accordingly.
If on the other hand Wigneswaran does not throw in the towel even if a vote of no confidence is passed against him and decides to fight back by simply staying put, a vicious media campaign is to be unleashed against him.While pressure is mounted on Wigneswaran by Tamil media organs in and outside Sri Lanka the TNA councillors opposed to him would conduct an intense non – cooperation campaign against him.This would include “Satyagrahas”in protest at the provincial council premises at Kaithady in Jaffna. Wigneswaran is expected to cave in and quit as orchestrated protests escalate.
Though resentment against Wigneswaran has been festering for quite some time within sections of the TNA the current move against him was activated after 2014 dawned it is learnt.Sections of the TNA hostile towards Wigneswaran were sufficiently motivated to initiate moves aimed at undermining him when it was known that the chief minister along with TNA national list parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran had met President Mahinda Rajapaksa on January 2nd.
At an inner party conclave held in Vavuniya on December 24th 2013 a large number of TNA parliamentarians and Provincial councillors had expressed their opposition to the idea of either TNA parliamentary group leader Rajavarothayam Sampanthan or chief minister CV Wigneswaran meeting with President Rajapaksa. Thus the news of the meeting with President Rajapaksa being held without the knowledge of many senior TNA leaders has been a source .of irritation and dissatisfaction.
The cabal involved in the conspiracy against chief minister Wigneswaran comprise TNA elements from three of its constituent parties namely the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi(ITAK)Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation Front(EPRLF) and Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization(TELO).Members of the other TNA constituent parties the Tamil United Liberation Front(TULF) or Peoples Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam(PLOTE)don’t seem to be involved in the conspiracy at this juncture.The leaders of the ITAK,EPRLF and TELO such as R.Sampanthan,Somasundaram “Maavai” Senathirajah,Suresh Premachandran or Selvam Adaikkalanathan are also not involved in the exercise.
According to informed sources the architects of the current conspiracy seem to be three elected provincial councillors from the Jaffna district.This unholy trinity is composed of a councillor each from the ITAK,EPRLF and TELO.All three had ambitious hopes of being Provincial ministers but were disappointed.Presently they hope to canvass enough support from fellow councillors to bring down Wigneswaran and bring about a change of administration.All three hope to be accommodated in different capacities in the new dispensation.
Tentative feelers have been sent out to some councillors about the prospects of a chief minister change.As stated earlier the conspirators will proceed to the next level once they ascertain the extent of support they have. At present the situation seems to be that of Wigneswaran having less support from councillors elected from Jaffna as opposed to those elected from the districts of Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, Mannar and Mullaitheevu.
While thwarted political ambitions of individual politicians seem to be the immediate cause of the brewing conspiracy against Wigneswaran there is no denying that his candidacy from the inception had been mired in controversy.The roots of intra-TNA resentment against Wigneswaran run deep.He was and is the “outsider”.His elitist aloofness and Ivory towerian approach even after being elected has not helped either.
More importantly Wigneswaran’s inability to extricate himself from the imbroglio in which he is entangled with Northern Governor GA Chandrasiri and the consequential impasse that prevails has weakened the chief minister’s image in the eyes of some provincial councillors.The conspirators hope to exploit these negative feelings also in this attempt to de-throne the ex-supreme court judge.
Whatever the motivations or machinations of the conspirators the move is likely to succeed only if senior TNA parliamentarian “Mavai”Senathirajah or Sivagnanam Shritharan the MP enjoying clout with Tamil Dispora extremists back the move.Currently no TNA parliamentarian seems to be involved in the move to oust Wigneswaran.Some are not even aware of these moves
On the other hand the TNA hierarchy is very likely to back Wigneswaran and support him strongly in retaining his position as chief minister.If the perceived threat to Wigneswaran assumes serious proportions TNA leaders and stalwarts may step in and use their influence and clout to defeat the conspiracy against the chief minister.
It is however felt that the conspiracy to oust Wigneswaran would not pose a serious threat to the chief minister because the conspirators will not be able to muster enough support for their ouster move.Although there is some discontent towards Wigneswaran very few Provincial councillors are expected to oppose him openly or support a move to replace him at this point of time.Most councillors are aware that Wigneswaran enjoys much popularity with the Northern voters who gave him 132,000 preference votes at the 2013 hustings.
According to informed sources the number of provincial councillors supporting the anti-Wigneswaran attempt will not even reach double digits despite the strenuous efforts of the conspirators.Thus the conspirators themselves will be compelled to abandon the moves to oust Wigneswaran at some point of time and tuck their tails in between said these sources.
Retired chief Justice CV Wigneswaran was supported by all five constituents of the TNA as their common candidate at the elections.However there was much opposition to his candidacy within the TNA earlier. Many in the TNA alliance and the ITAK party wanted Senathirajah nominated as chief ministerial candidate.This issue was resolved due to the efforts of TNA leader Sampanthan who strongly backed Wigneswaran.Ultimaely Senathirajah stood down in favour of Wigneswaran.
DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org