New Constitution require the support of Sinhalese Buddhists in Parliament.

by Easwaran Rutnam

@easwaranrutnam

A spate of arrests over the past few weeks of several opposition politicians and those linked to them, has given rise to speculation that the big guns of the former regime will be next.

The arrest or summons issued on the likes of Basil Rajapaksa, Namal Rajapaksa, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, etc. is part of the Government’s reported crackdown on corruption allegedly committed by the former regime.

However, it is also seen as an attempt to prevent the opposition from regrouping as a new political alliance ahead of the next election.

Telephones began ringing in political circles last Friday when Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa appeared in court over the Avant Garde case.

The media was abuzz that he would be arrested and accused of fraud but instead he was granted bail in the case.

Speaking to reporters last week Basil Rajapaksa said the government fears the formation of a new political alliance by the opposition.

He revealed that all those who will be part of the new alliance will take the stage at the opposition rally scheduled to take place on Saturday October 8 in Ratnapura.

Asked if he will be the leader of the new alliance, Basil Rajapaksa said no and added that the people will decide who the leader must be.

Rajapaksa said that the need for a new political alliance arose following the decisions taken by the government on the VAT increase.

The opposition was also using the recent statements made by Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran to raise concerns over the state of the country.

 

Mahinda Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa

TNA’s Wigneswaran runs riot

Wigneswaran was put forward as the Chief Ministerial candidate of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) at the historic Northern Provincial Council elections in 2013 despite some stiff opposition from within the party.

While the likes of TNA leader R. Sampanthan and M.A. Sumanthiran pushed for Wigneswaran others backed senior TNA member Mavai Senathirajah.

However Wigneswaran, who was seen as a moderate is now seen as an extremist and this has resulted him losing the support he had from people like Sampanthan and Sumanthiran.

What will be interesting to see is if Wigneswaran will have the support of the TNA at the next Northern Provincial Council election.

The most likely scenario would be that the TNA will drop Wigneswaran and put forward another candidate and Wigneswaran may then gather support to contest independently.

Over the past several weeks Wigneswaran has been pushing for a merged North and East and has also reportedly said Sinhalese should not be settled in Tamil dominated areas in the North.

This drew strong reactions from the government and the opposition and gave fuel for harline Sinhalese groups to take to the streets.

 

“LTTE is back”

One such group is the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) which staged a protest in Vavuniya last Friday calling for the arrest of Wigneswaran.

In an audio statement sent to The Sunday Leader prior to the protest, the BBS said that they have information LTTE supporters were operating in the North and threatening Sinhalese families.

The joint opposition also warned that a “Sinhalese Wigneswaran”  could be formed in the South if the government remains silent on some incidents taking place in the North.

Joint opposition Parliamentarian Udaya Gammanpila said that while everybody talks of reconciliation in the South, the reality is that there is no reconciliation in the North.

He said President Maithripala Sirisena had said recently that there was reconciliation in the North but not in the South.

Gammanpila accused the President of saying that the people in the South should follow people like Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran.

He said that if the government continues in this manner a Wigneswaran is bound to be formed in the South in future.

Talk of the LTTE raising its head once again had made the rounds in the recent past as well but the government insisted there was no change of the LTTE regrouping in the North.

Last week the Army said it was prepared to do what it must in order to protect the unity of the country and national interests.

Army Commander Lieutenant General Crishanthe De Silva said that the army is also committed to protect the public at all costs.

The Commander expressed these views when asked about comments made recently by Wigneswaran which was seen as a threat to the unity in the country.

“It is our duty to protect the public and as Army Commander I can assure you we will do that,” he said.

He was speaking to the media in Kandy after formally inaugurating a series of religious ceremonies on account of the forthcoming 67th anniversary of the Sri Lanka Army which falls on October 10.

Also reacting to Wigneswaran’s comments was Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader Rauff Hakeem.

Hakeem said there is no move to endanger Sri Lanka’s sovereignty through the new Constitution.

He said that the international community expects Sri Lanka to put forward a political solution to the National issue.

He said that the new Constitution will meet the expectations of the international and more importantly all communities in Sri Lanka.

The SLMC leader also dismissed allegations that the new Constitution will divide the country and will be a threat to Buddhists in the country.

He said the new Constitution can only be passed if it gets 2/3 majority in Parliament and that will require the support of Sinhalese Buddhists in Parliament.