COLOMBO: In a controversial statement made on Friday, Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran said that S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike, who proposed a federal constitution for Sri Lanka way back in 1926, had made the suggestion with the ulterior motive of isolating the Tamils and confining them to the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
Writing from his hospital bed in Jaffna, Wigneswaran said Bandaranaike had made the proposal with an intention to bottle up the Tamils because under British rule, the Tamils had the run of the entire country, enjoying the freedom to move, to buy property and take jobs anywhere. Not surprisingly, the Tamils themselves rejected Bandaranaike’s proposal at that time saying that federalism will only curb them.
However, when the Tamil “Federal Party” demanded federalism after independence, Bandaranaike changed his stance. And as Prime Minister in 1956, he brought in the Sinhala Only Act to obliterate the Tamil identity, Wigneswaran pointed out. And the process of the marginalization of the Tamils and the obliteration of their identity continues to this day, he claimed.
In such a situation, the Sinhalese leaders’ suggestion that in lieu of federalism, Tamils should accept a unitary constitution with guaranteed rights for all, holds no water, he argued.
Wigneswaran was particularly incensed by Janatha Vimukthi Permuna (JVP) leader Tilvin Silva’s claim that the demand for federalism is basically a demand of the Tamil politician and not of the Tamil people.
Radical Sinhalese parties, such as the JVP, the Budhu Bala Sena and Sinhala Ravaya, are seeking punitive action against Wigneswaran and the Tamil National Alliance leaders for making the “anti-national” demand for a federal structure.