COLOMBO: Super Power United States as well as Regional Power India are none too happy with the political conduct of C.V.Wigneswaran, the Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province.
US and Indian envoys have directly conveyed to him their concern that his unhelpful and radical posturing could jeopardize the Lankan government’s bid to find an amicable solution to the long-standing Tamil question.
Last Thursday, Indian High Commissioner Y.K.Sinha met Wigneswaran and urged him not to split the moderate Tamil National Alliance (TNA) but instead cooperate with the leaders of the TNA such as R.Sampanthan, M.A.Sumanthiran and Mavai Senathirajah in engaging the Lankan government to find a solution to the Tamil problem when there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Wigneswaran told Sinha said that differences within the TNA could be solved through talks, but it was apparent that the gap was wide, if not unbridgeable. He vehemently justified his opposition to the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government and to the TNA leadership’s reposing faith in it.
Earlier on November 23, Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the UN, met Wigneswaran in Jaffna and trashed his argument that the new regime in Colombo has not done anything for the Tamils. According to D.B.S.Jeyaraj, Wigneswaran had to revise his stand somewhat after Power demolished his case with an 11-point rebuttal. After the meeting, Power tweeted: “Urged Jaffna Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran to help reinforce precious moment for reconciliation and re-building.”
Power’s tweet after meeting TNA chief Sampanthan was of a noticeably different kind. She described the moderate Tamil leader as a “passionate voice of Tamil rights seeking results by building national consensus.”
She was pleased with the progress made by Lanka under the new government led by President Maithripala Sirisena. She said she was “honored” to meet Sirisena “who is committed to reconciliation, democracy, reform, justice.” The ranking US diplomat described Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera as a “friend” who is “a firm advocate of the rights of the Sri Lankan people, accountable government and reform.”
Unlikely to Climb Down
Despite expressions of concern from influential quarters, Wigneswaran is unlikely to give up his radical posture because he has been led to believe that he can take on the TNA with the help of the “people” and the support of the pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora. He is said to be under the influence of forces which believe that the Lankan Tamils can do without India and perhaps even the US.
Wigneswaran could therefore either try and capture the TNA or adopt existing friendly organizations like the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) and the Tamil National Political Front (TNPF). Political circles expect him to act before the local bodies elections in April 2016.
However, the TNA’s leaders are unfazed. Sampanthan threw the gauntlet when he said in Batticaloa: “If the party and the people want it, I will step down in favor of Wigneswaran.” He is not walking away.
According to Sumanthiran, Wigneswaran’s claims of a mass following are hollow. “His real strength was seen in the August 17 parliamentary elections. The TNA swept the polls without his support. The TNPF, which he indirectly supported, came a cropper,” Sumanthiran observed.