Sri Lanka’s Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran on Monday backed down from his earlier insistence that the two Ministers against whom he had ordered a fresh probe, have to go on leave till the pendency of the inquiry.
This is expected to pave the way for a compromise with his opponent, R.Sampanthan, the leader of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) the dominant group in the Northern Provincial Council (NPC).
Wigneswaran gave in because Sampanthan had said that he will advise the Ministers not to interfere with the investigations.
Wigneswaran’s revised stance followed a meeting he had with prominent religious leaders of the Northern Province such as Srila Sri Somasundra Thesika Gnana Sambanda Paramachchariyar Swamy Peedathipathy of the Hindu Nallai Aatheenam and Rev. Justin Bernard Gnanapragasam, Catholic Bishop of Jaffna on Monday.
With this, the ITAK is expected to abandon its bid to move a Motion of No-Confidence against the Chief Minister. The ITAK leadership is also under pressure from domestic and international quarters to go for a compromise in the larger interest of the Tamils.
In a letter addressed to Sampanthan, the Chief Minister said: “ There was no punitive action taken against the two Ministers concerned. They are entitled to draw their salary and use their vehicles etc. It is in order to give protection to the Witnesses that it was said that they should take leave while the Inquiring Committee sat. There are new charges too against them.”
“I understand your inability to give guarantees with regard to the conduct of the two Ministers. But I am glad you have undertaken to advise them that they should not impede an independent legal inquiry. It is to ensure the independent legal inquiry and to commit the two Ministers that I designed the formula of taking leave for one month.”
“ You are a Senior Member of the ITAK. You are the leader of the TNA. You have undertaken to advise the two Ministers not to impede an independent legal inquiry. The two Religious Dignitaries have insisted that the two Ministers must co-operate by not interfering with the course of justice. Added to these Hon’ Selvam Adaikalanathan, Hon’ Dharmalingam Sidharthan and Hon’ Suresh Premachandran have also undertaken last night in the best interests of the Tamils to speak to the Hon’ Ministers, to make sure they will not interfere with the course of justice nor interfere with nor threaten witnesses nor tamper with evidence etc.”
“ In the light of these undertakings, I will not insist on the conditions relating to leave.”
If Sampanthan agrees to this proposition, the political crisis in the Northern Province will end. But the animosity between the Chief Minister and his party, the ITAK, will remain as this runs deep, involving egos, political ambitions and foreign vested interests such as the Tamil Diaspora.