COLOMBO: The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-dominated Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, has assured India that the differences in the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) will be ironed out and that unity will be maintained to enable the Tamils to secure their rights in Sri Lanka.
This assurance was given to the Indian High Commissioner in Lanka, Y.K.Sinha, when he had a two-hour meeting Chief Minister Wigneswaran in Jaffna on December 10.
Sinha was on a three-day tour of the Northern Province which ended on Saturday.
Briefing the media on his talks with the High Commissioner, Wigneswaran said that the envoy expressed concern over internal dissensions in the TNA and said that such dissensions could be used by the majority community to deny the Tamils their rights at a time when chances of finding a political solution to the Tamil question are brightening.
Sinha urged the Chief Minister to get along with the TNA leadership comprising R.Sampanthan, M.A.Sumanthiran and Mavai Senathirajah.
Wigneswaran admitted that there are ideological differences between the Jaffna-based leaders and the Colombo-based leaders of the TNA. His case was that the Tamil question looks different when viewed from different places. As a Jaffna-based leader, he has a perspective which is different from that of the Colombo-based leaders like Sumanthiran, Wigneswaran said. However, he assured that he is all for the unity of the TNA and that any internal differences will be ironed out through discussions. Wigneswaran recalled that Sumanthiran was his student in the Sri Lanka Law College and that there should be no difficulty in making up with his student.
Although the former Supreme Court Justice and essentially apolitical Wigneswaran was put up for the Chief Minister’s post in 2013 by the TNA’s troika comprising Sampanthan, Sumanthiran and Senathirajah, he began to act independently of the troika and even the TNA as a party. He also reportedly developed contradictions with the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) and its Chairman (or Speaker) C.V.K.Sivagnanam. There were also complaints of his playing favorites within his four member Board of Ministers and of being guided by some “rank outsiders”.
But what proved to be the last straw on the camel’s back was Wigneswaran’s declaration on the eve of the August 17, 2015 Lankan parliamentary elections that he would be “neutral.” He then went on to appeal to the voters to vote for persons of a particular kind which clearly suggested that he was asking them to the vote for the radical Tamil National Peoples’ Front (TNPF) whose leaders are seen by moderates as being acolytes of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In his various statements as CM, Wigneswaran seemed to be plugging the radical line. He was functioning more as a political agitator than the head of an administration charged with the task of post-war developmental work.
Matters came a head when Sumanthiran openly declared that the TNA will sack Wigneswaran for anti-party activities. Wigneswaran retorted saying that he is not a member of any political party to be sacked and that he won the Provincial Council elections with the highest number of preferential votes on his personal credentials rather than any party affiliation.
In his meeting with the Indian High Commissioner, Wigneswaran requested India to secure the release of the 217 LTTE cadres still in detention. The Tamils consider these to be political prisoners but the government sees them as hardcore terrorists. Indian aid was also sought to rehabilitate about 12,000 released LTTE cadres who are finding it difficult to survive in post-war society. When the High Commissioner spoke about the paucity of funds, the Chief Minister said that the Tamils are looking up to India for help because they have no one else to turn to.