The spat between the Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil majority Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, and the senior-most leader of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), R.Sampanthan, continued on Sunday, with Sampanthan refusing to accept Wigneswaran’s latest condition for restoring normalcy.
Wigneswaran had asked Sampanthan to give a guarantee that the two Ministers, P.Sathiyalingam and T.Kurukularaja, will not interfere in the inquiry ordered against them. Sampanthan replied that he will advice them not to interfere in any independent legal inquiry, but added that he cannot give any guarantee in this regard.
On Wigneswaran’s insinuation that Sampanthan’s party, ITAK, is acting independently of him, Sampanthan said that he is not the current President or the General Secretary of the ITAK.
Sampanthan also said that Wigneswaran cannot ignore a senior leader like Mavai Senathirajah (President of the ITAK) who had fought for the Tamils and suffered in the process. Sampanthan reminded Wigneswaran that when he was made Chief Minister in 2013, he had said that he would need the wise counsel of Senathirajah.
Sampanthan then suggested that Wigneswaran should go ahead and implement, without delay, the remedial steps that he proposed to take to ensure that the inquiry to be conducted against Ministers Sathiyalingam and Kurukularajah is free from the interference from the Ministers.
But the two Ministers have refused to give any letter saying that they will not interfere. They point out that there was no such condition earlier, when all the four ministers in Wigneswaran’s administration, were inquired into. And in that inquiry, they were found not to be guilty. But still Wigneswaran asked for a second inquiry. He told Sampanthan that this is not a matter of law but of good governance.
What Sampanthan is asking Wigneswaran to do now, is to go ahead and prevent the two Ministers from attending office till the pendency of the inquiry.
In the meanwhile preparations are on to present the planned No Confidence Motion against the Chief Minister in the Northern Provincial Council (NPC).
At the moment, 22 of the 38 members of the council are supporting the motion, and 15 against.
But Wigneswaran’s faction is hoping to get some defectors in the next few days. The crowds that have come out in support of Wigneswaran and the support he is getting in the media, are expected to influence some of the members now with Sampanthan.
However, leaders of the ITAK like S.Sritharan MP say that experience shows that crowds, hartals and media coverage do not necessarily reflect the opinion of people or sway their thinking.
“Wigneswaran did not support the ITAK or TNA in the August 2015 parliamentary elections and was indirectly supporting the Tamil National People’s Front. But TNPF could not get a single candidate elected. The Wigneswaran group got less than the candidates of Sinhalese parties,” recalled C.V.K.Sivagnanam, chairman of the NPC and an ITAK leader.
On Wigneswaran’s bid to portray himself as the anti-corruption messiah, Sritharan said that there are allegations of corruption against Wigneswaran also in the departments he is handling, such as Lands and Administration. These would be brought into the open at the appropriate time.