Delivering a memorial oration in India recently, Northern Province Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran has sought the support of India to secure a federal system in Sri Lanka. In his speech, he has said that they want a true devolution and even an improvement of the 13th Amendment would not do. According to him, the constitution should be changed to replace the unitary system by a federal system which should include the Tamils’ right to self-determination.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader, several politicians expressed mixed views regarding the matter.
India Linked To War And Peace In Sri Lanka
Mano Ganesan, Leader, Democratic People’s Front
They also supported the government in war efforts against the LTTE to end the war.
According to the statement of Northern Province Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran, I believe that he wants to see the Indian model of federalism in Sri Lanka.
There are 29 states in India and there is a level of powers devolved to each state. According to my understanding, he wants that level of powers devolved to each province in Sri Lanka.
Wigneswaran is the most moderate Tamil leader in the North and without finding faults in him we should learn to work with him.
TNA Always Wanted A Federal Constitution
Suresh Premachandran, TNA MP
When we were contesting the election, we clearly said in our election manifesto that the TNA intends for a federal constitution.
Northern Provincial Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran has spoken on that need to secure the federal system which we have been longing for.
For that purpose, we try our best to mobilize the international community and we have started doing so.
India is one of the signatory countries of the Indo-Lanka Accord and therefore it is important to seek the support of India to secure a federal system in the country that recognizes the Tamil’s rights for self-determination.
We Are Against That Sunil Handunneththi, JVP MP
We have been on the position that there should not be a federation or federal system with the intention of devolving power.
We are against that.
There needs to be a way that all the nationalities are given their rights on equal grounds but the solution is not a federal system. In order to solve the national issue, the rights of all the nationalities – Sinhala, Tamil or Muslims should be assured on equal grounds.
They Must Be Having Something Else In Their Minds
Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena
But India itself believed that the provincial council system is the best for our country.
It is they who introduced the provincial council system to our country. They cannot now go back in what they convinced us to do.
The provincial council system has worked fine so far in this country.
This is a too small country for a federal system.
I had been in the provincial councils for over 8 years and the powers given to the provincial councils are more than enough to develop the provinces.
If they say the power given to the provinces are not enough, they must be having something else in their mind.
We Completely Reject The Idea
Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe, JHU MP
It is up to the Sri Lankan parliament to amend the constitution or introduce a new system.
A constitution in the country reflects the requirements of the people in the country.
It is the decision of the people whether they need a federal constitution or another system.
Another country’s involvement in changing the legislation or the system of the country is completely a violation of sovereignty of the country.
We cannot approve of any such involvement of any other country in changing the constitution of Sri Lanka.
If We Demand A Federal System Nothing Will Happen
Hasan Ali, SLMC General Secretary
A federal concept was first proposed by S. W. R. D. Bandaranayaka but it was opposed at that time.
The current president has gone on record promising to implement 13 Plus.
Before going to demand on a federal constitution, we need to first get him to implement the 13 Plus.
Right now if we go on to demand a federal system nothing will happen.
Even India is committed to see that the 13 Plus is implemented in Sri Lanka.
Federalism is a new concept and we need to start a dialogue about that from the very basics.