Federal unit in re-merged NE NPC resolution should be examined like any other proposal – TNA

Sumanthiran,Hakeem

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) spokesperson M. A. Sumanthiran, MP yesterday told The Island that a resolution seeking the re-merger of the Eastern Province with the Northern Province adopted by the TNA-led Northern Provincial Council (NPC) on Friday (April 22) could be considered by the government as well as all other political parties represented in Parliament.

The TNA comprises the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi, the TELO, PLOTE and EPRLF.

Jaffna District MP and attorney-at-law Sumanthiran emphasised the need to take a look at the NPC’s proposal. It could be considered like any other proposal, Sumanthiran said.

Asked whether the TNA would throw its weight behind the NPC proposal for the re-merger of the Eastern Province with the Northern Province, MP Sumanthiran said that the TNA always stood for the amalgamation of the two provinces.

MP Sumanthiran said that the two provinces had remained merged for 18 years before the Supreme Court in Oct. 2006 found fault with the way it was done.

The two administrative provinces were merged in September 1988 in keeping with the provisions in the July 1987 Indo-Lanka Accord.

Though the merger had to be approved at a referendum in accordance with the accord, that requirement was never fulfilled. The two provinces were formally de-merged on January 1, 2007 on a Supreme Court order.

The Jaffna District MP said the NPC resolution was to be delivered to Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The TNA spokesperson said that the NPC resolution was meant to be taken up at deliberations leading to the new Constitution.

The NPC resolution called for granting federalism in addition to the re-merger of the two administrative provinces.

In the run-up to Friday’s adopting of the resolution, a special committee held consultations in all districts with various organisations.

Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran moved the resolution.

Only two Sinhala members of the NPC namely Wannihamige Jayathilaka and Dharmapala Seneviratne of the UPFA opposed the resolution.

All other members of the NPC spoke in favour of the resolution.

Retired Supreme Court judge Wigneswaran was elected the Chief Minister following the first Northern Provincial Council polls conducted on September 21, 2013.

The NPC comprised 38 members with the TNA having 30 seats, the UPFA seven and the SLMC 1.

Northern Province Governor Reginald Cooray has told the media that the issue is whether the NPC’s proposal was in line with the Constitution. Cooray was responding to a query raised by a television station on Saturday. The Governor couldn’t be contacted over the phone yesterday.

A veteran administrator told The Island that the NPC proposal was contrary to the Constitution as well as a Supreme Court ruling given in Oct. 2006 in respect of the merger of the Eastern Province with the Northern Province by President JR Jayewardene.

SLMC leader and City Planning and Water Supply Minister Rauf Hakeem yesterday asserted that a consensus in Parliament was required to advance NPC’s proposal. Minister Hakeem emphasised the need to secure the support of the two major political parties in Parliament to make such a proposal reality. Responding to a query, the SLMC leader said that unilateral statements in respect of a crucial issue could certainly be disadvantageous to those pursuing re-merger of the two provinces.

Minister Hakeem recalled the circumstances under which President JR Jayewardene had merged the two provinces by simply issuing a gazette notification. In spite of having serious reservations, the SLMC contested the first North-Eastern provincial Council polls conducted on Nov 19, 1988, Minister Hakeem said, adding that the party secured 17 seats in the Eastern province. However, the SLMC had distanced itself from the administration soon after then Chief Minister Varatharaja Perumal declared independence, the minister said.