The Northern Province Governor, G.A. Chandrasiri, and Chief Minister, C.V. Wigneswaran, were seen in public for the first time at a function at Vembadi Girls High School, Jaffna on Thursday since Chandrasiri was reappointed as Governor, Northern Province by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, last week.
The two gentlemen with garlands around their necks walked happily talking to each other towards the school auditorium to the beat of the school band without showing any signs of indifference over the reappointment of Northern Governor’s issue.
Governor Chandrasiri was a career military officer whereas Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran was a senior member in the army cadet platoon during his school days at Royal College, Colombo. Governor Chandrasiri served as Jaffna Security Forces Commander and it was during his period the LTTE even carried out an air raid at Palaly in 2008. However, the Palaly military base which remained the nerve centre of all military operations in the North with an airfield, escaped without any serious damage from the Tiger air attack.
Later on Major General Chandrasiri became the Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army and on his retirement he was appointed as the first Governor of the demerged North, from the Eastern Province, in 2009. The Northern and Eastern Provinces which were merged as a single entity with the introduction of the Provincial Council system under the Indo- Lanka accord signed in 1987 were demerged following a Supreme Court Order stating the merger was illegal, in 2006.
When the first merged Northern and Eastern Provincial Council was formed with the blessings of the Indian Government in 1988, the former Army Commander Lt. Gen. Nalin Seneviratne became the first Governor of the Province.
During the initial stages of the Tamil militancy in the North in the early eighties, Lt. Gen Nalin Seneviratne succeeded late Maj. Gen Lyle Balthazar as Jaffna commander in the rank of a Brigadier.
Later on when Gen. Nalin Seneviratne became the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, the Security Forces launched the first ever military offensive code named ‘Operation Liberation’ which was also popularly known as ‘Vadamarachchi Operation’ against the LTTE in 1987. The military offensive in the North was headed by several legendary military personalities such as late Gen. Denzil Kobbekaduwa, Gen. Wijaya Wimalaratne and Gen. Gerry de Silva who were functioned as Brigade commanders in the forefront.
Gen. Nalin Seneviratne also remained as the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army when the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) launched their operation against the LTTE in October 1987.
However, with his retirement from the army in 1988, Gen. Nalin Seneviratne became the first Governor of the merged North and East Provincial Council in November 1988.
Former Economics lecturer of the University of Jaffna and the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) stalwart A. Varadaraja Perumal taking his oaths before President J.R. Jayewardene as first Chief Minister of the North and East Provincial Council, there was hardly any protest from Chief Minister Varadaraja Perumal or his Councillors over one time Jaffna Commander and Retired Army Commander Gen. Nalin Seneviratne’s appointment as Governor of the first ever North and East Province, in 1988.
However, despite the withdrawal of the IPKF and the collapse of the North and East Provincial Council in 1989, Gen. Nalin Seneviratne remained as Governor of the North and East Province till 1993 and later he was succeeded by Jaffna’s one time popular Government Agent Lionel Fernando as Governor North and East in 1994.
Following Lionel Fernando, late film icon Gamini Fonseka, Maj. Gen Asoka Jayawardene and former External Affairs Minister Tyrone Fernando became the Governors of North and East in the years 1995, 1998, and 2004 respectively. Tyrone Fernando was the last Governor of the merged North and East Province and with the formal demerger of the two provinces Rear Admiral Mohan Wijewickrema was sworn-in as first Governor of the demerged Eastern Province in January 2007.
When the nine provinces of the country were brought under the Provincial Council system with the introduction of the 13th Amendment in 1988, the first Tamil Chief Justice of Sri Lanka late S. Sharvananda became the first Governor of the Western Province which includes the capital city, Colombo.
After Sharvananda stepped down from his position as Governor Western Province, he was succeeded by present UNP Parliamentarian D.M. Swaminathan and later on the position was held by former Judge of the Court of Appeal K. Wignaraja , Judge of the Supreme Court P. Ramanathan and at present the position is held by the veteran SLFP Trade Unionist Alhaj Alavi Mowlana.
Therefore, it is the citizens from the minority communities who have been holding the position of the Governor of the premier Province in the country with the introduction of the Provincial Council system.
Therefore, the reappointment of Maj. Gen G.A.Chandrasiri as Governor Northern Province for the second time despite the assurance given by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran, to appoint a person with the back ground of the Civil service early this year has come under severe criticism mainly within the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which has now expressed its readiness to hold direct talks with the government.
When the TNA was on the lookout for a suitable chief ministerial candidate for the Northern Provincial polls last year, several constituent parties in the TNA and the majority of TNA supporters were backing veteran Tamil politician Mavai S. Senathiraja MP.
However, Senathiraja following the request made by the TNA leader R. Sampanthan became a ‘king maker’ by allowing C.V. Wigneswaran to be in the fray as the chief ministerial candidate.
The removal of G.A. Chadrasiri as Northern Governor was one of the pledges made by the TNA in its Northern Provincial Council election manifesto last year.
However, when observing the functions of the newly created Northern Provincial Council in the past nine months, it is clear that two different attitudes have been adopted by the government with regard to the administration of the Northern Provincial Council.
Chief Minister Wigneswaran has been openly critical of Governor Chandrasiri of being a stumbling block to the smooth administration of the Northern Provincial Council despite his appearance with the Governor at public events.
Therefore, since the reappointment of Maj. Gen Chadrasiri has emerged as a key issue in the Tamil National Alliance, it looks as if the Alliance at the beginning in search for a Chief Ministerial candidate could have gone with Mavai Senathiraja who is a die-hard politician. The TNA even would have made the right moves to make C.V. Wigneswaran as Governor Northern Province who would have been an ideal choice and even would have been accepted by Colombo for the position on the line of his predecessors in the legal fraternity such as late Chief Justice S. Sharvananda, Justices K. Wignaraja and late P. Ramanathan being appointed the Governors of the Western Province in the past.