COLOMBO: The ideological and political rift between the Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran and the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government in Colombo appears to be widening, with Wigneswaran’s efforts to maintain cordiality being half-hearted and perfunctory.
The Tamil Peoples’ Council (TPC), which Wigneswaran had created in December 2015, had proposed a constitutional scheme for Sri Lanka which no government in Colombo would touch with a barge pole. The TPC demands a constitutional set-up based on “shared sovereignty” in which two “sovereign” entities, the Tamil “nation” and the Sinhalese “nation”, come together to form a federation. The TPC’s scheme does not envisage “devolution” in which the Centre is the main repository of sovereignty, and it only “devolves” power to the Tamil province. In the TPC’s scheme, two separate sovereign entities pool their sovereignties to form a whole. It’s a deal between equals.
Wigneswaran had formed the TPC because he felt that his own party, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), had developed a cozy relationship with Colombo, “betraying” the Tamils’ struggle for self-determination. The TPC’s constitutional proposals are meant to publicly embarrass the TNA, as much as they are an ideological assault on Colombo’s political sensibilities.
As part of the standoff, on February 12, Wigneswaran stayed away from a function in Jaffna to inaugurate the website of the National Consultation on Reconciliation Mechanisms, in which Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and the TNA leader M.A.Sumanthiran shared the dais. On February 11, Wigneswaran failed to appear at a dinner hosted by the Foreign Minister. The Chief Minister did attend a tea party given by the out-going Governor, HMGS Palihakkara, but left in five minutes.
Irked with Wigneswaran for floating a rival radical outfit (albeit in the garb of a civil society movement), and claiming to have won the 2013 provincial elections on his own steam, the TNA is threatening to move a no-confidence motion against him in the Provincial Council. The threat is real because on February 9, the Council, dominated by the TNA, unanimously passed a no-trust motion against Wigneswaran’s follower, Agriculture Minister P.Ayingaranesan.
“If the CM does not take action against Ayingaranesan, we may have to consider a no-trust motion against the CM himself,” a top TNA leader told Express on Saturday.