In a surprisingly swift move, 21 of the 30 members of the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) on Wednesday petitioned provincial Governor Reginold Cooray for permission to move a No-Confidence Motion against Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran.
In all probability, the Governor will accede to the request and the motion may be moved on Thursday, an MP from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said.
Contenders for the Chief Ministership are the Chairman of the NPC, C.V.K.Sivagnanam, and Health Minister Dr.P.Sathiyalingam.
Discontent against the Chief Minister and his four-member Board of Ministers particularly, Agriculture Minister P.Ayngaranesan, had been brewing since last year. There were charges of corruption, maladministration and neglect for which the Chief Minister’s standard reply was that the provincial administration was not given enough powers and funds by an “anti-Tamil” government in Colombo. But the Leader of the Opposition, S.Thavarajah, would ask how other provinces in Sri Lanka were functioning well with the same degree of powers. For that, there would be no answer.
Gradually, other NPC members realized that if the Chief Minister had the will there was a way. But he did not have the will. Chief Minister Wigneswaran would scoff at development ideas and initiatives, and speak only about political power and war-time accountability issues.
Having allowed grass to grow under his feet, the Chief Minister last year had to contend with complaints by 16 of the 30 NPC members. They had leveled serious charges against the ministers. He was forced to appoint a commission of experts, comprising two retired High Court judges and a retired senior civil servant, to probe the charges.
The committee did a professional job, and ended up indicting the Agriculture Minister P.Ayngaranesan and Education Minister T.Kurukularaja. Health Minister P.Sathiylingam and Fisheries Minister B.Deniswaran were exonerated.
But on Wednesday, Wigneswaran spoke disparagingly about the complaints and portrayed them as a bid to destabilize his regime and even replace him. He said that a certain prominent person living far away is trying to oust him and declared that he cannot be ousted from the Chief Minister’s post because he was “directly elected by the people” to that post – a claim which has no basis in the constitution of Sri Lanka.
He then proceeded to request the two indicted ministers to hand in their resignations by noon on Thursday, and on a flimsy excuse, asked the other two exonerated ministers, to take leave for a month so that some fresh charges against them can be probed.
For the NPC, this was the last straw on the camel’s back. It is said that even while Wigneswaran was speaking, 21 members left the chamber and met the Governor to get his permission to move a No Trust Motion.