The Northern Provincial Council (NPC) four years after its formation is now in upheaval following the report released by a special committee which was appointed by Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran to probe into allegations against four NPC Ministers.
Chief Minister Wigneswaran was compelled to appoint the three-member special committee headed by retired judicial official S. Thiyakenthiran and including a retired senior Sri Lanka Administrative Service officer S. Pathmanathan.
Since the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) remains the ruling party in the NPC, the formation of the special committee was not discussed with the hierarchy of the TNA and it was entirely decided by the Chief Minister following a barrage of accusations brought against all four NPC Ministers by Opposition members and even by several members of the ruling TNA in the NPC. The Northern Provincial Council which was formed in October 2013 comprises 38 councilors. The ruling Tamil National Alliance consists of 30 councilors and the Opposition consists of 7 councilors from the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) as well as one member from the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC).
Chief Minister Wigneswaran who is a retired Supreme Court Judge was compelled to contest as the Chief Ministerial candidate of the TNA and won an overwhelming victory at the October 2013 NPC election following insistence from Tamil civil society players and politicians here and abroad.
However there were several staunch supporters of the Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchchi (ITAK) who preferred the ITAK leader and veteran Tamil politician Mavai S. Senathiraja to C.V. Wigneswaran as the Chief Ministerial candidate for the Northern Provincial Council.
So despite a majority of ITAK members preferring Parliamentarian Senathiraja becoming the NPC Chief Ministerial candidate, the veteran politician became a ‘kingmaker’ by allowing Wigneswaran to become the Northern Province Chief Minister. Right from the inception however, several problems surfaced in the NPC hindering its smooth functioning.
It was at the early stages of the formation of the NPC that K. Kamalendran from the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) was removed from his position as Opposition Leader following his alleged involvement in a murder of an EPDP politico in the North.
Following the removal of Kamalendran from the position of the NPC Opposition Leader, a senior member of the EPDP S.Thavarasa was appointed as the NPC Leader of the Opposition.
However Thavarasa had also fallen out with his party for breaching the EPDP’s decision of allowing other members of the party to hold the NPC Opposition Leader’s position in rotation.
It was the NPC Opposition Leader S.Thavarasa who was in the forefront alleging that the four NPC ministers were guilty of corruption and malpractices.
Thavarasa even went to the extent of leaking the report of the special committee, which was appointed by the Chief Minister, suggesting to remove NPC Ministers P. Aynkaranesan and T. Kurukularasa after finding them guilty of the allegations against them.
So against the backdrop of Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran requesting the NPC Ministers P. Aynkaranesan and T.Kurukularasa to relinquish their positions at the debate on the special committee report last Wednesday (14), the ITAK leader and Parliamentarian Mavai S. Senathiraja has demanded that even Chief Minister Wigneswaran should also resign from his position.
The TNA being the ruling party in the NPC, ITAK leader Mavai S. Senathiraja has even stated that nothing has been discussed over the latest NPC issue or on the special committee appointed to probe into the allegations against the NPC Ministers.
The Leader of the Opposition and TNA Leader R.Sampanthan was furious over the decision taken by the Northern Chief Minister on his own with regard to the allegations against the NPC ministers and calling for their resignations. The latest crisis that has emerged in the NPC has led to ridicule of the political stance of the Tamil National Alliance both locally as well as internationally.
The Northern Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran’s action against his Ministers while highlighting the corrupt nature of a political body which has been established in a war torn region with immense humanitarian issues, has also led to weakening of the Tamil National Alliance which remains the voice of the people, still struggling to fulfil their political aspirations in the North and East.
At the Wednesday, 14 June debate on the special committee report at the NPC, while demanding the resignation of Ministers P. Aynkaranesan and T. Kurukularasa, Chief Minister Wigneswaran has mentioned that the other two NPC Ministers B. Deniswaran and Dr. P. Sathyalingam should refrain from carrying out their official duties until they have been proved innocent of the allegations framed against them.
The Chief Minister has also stated that he would take upon himself their responsibilities until the probe on B. Deniswaran and P.Sathyalingam is completed.
Chief Minister Wigneswaran is also a prominent member in the Tamil People’s Council (TPC) which comprises political figures opposed to the TNA hierarchy. The latest action by the Chief Minister at the NPC has been even considered as a ‘torpedo’ fired by the TPC using the Chief Minister.
Since the TNA hierarchy has fallen out with Chief Minister Wigneswaran and is criticizing him for mishandling the latest NPC issue, more problematic conditions are likely to emerge in the near future in the NPC, with the NPC digging its own grave.