By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran has assured Northern Provincial Ministers P. Deneeswaran and Dr. Sathyalingam that they can remain in office provided they submit written assurances to him that they will not ‘interfere’ in the probe into corruption allegations against them. On receipt of such letters he has said he would rescind his earlier order sending them on ‘compulsory leave’, sources said.
The Chief Minister is yet to reveal his final official decision on the twoMinisters because the entire Northern Provincial polity is waiting to make the next move, especially the ITAK which brought the motion of ‘No Confidence’ against him.
On Friday, Leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) R. Sampanthan urged Wigneswaran in writing to take early remedial action in relation to the two Ministers who were cleared of guilt by the probe findings of his own Committee of Inquiry. However, this will not deter you from holding any further inquiry into the two ministers.
A major political crisis was triggered by a ‘No Confidence’ Motion against Wigneswaran tabled by……the ITAK – the key constituent of the TNA, when he demanded that two Ministers not found guilty of corruption charges brought against them , should go on compulsory leave. They were exonerated in the probe by the committee appointed by the Chief Minister himself.
On Friday, Tamil National Alliance Leader R. Sampanthan in a letter to the Chief Minister said strongly that “Your punitive action against the two Ministers who had not been found guilty has resulted in the ‘No Confidence’ motion against you.”
Sampanthan said, “It is my view that, to bring things to an end, it is necessary to first take remedial action pertaining to the two Ministers who have not been found guilty.
He stressed in his letter that the Chief Minister’s “unwarranted action should not be the catalyst for promoting disunity within the NPC and derailing the functioning of the Northern Provincial Council.
He went on to say that the Committee of Inquiry appointed by Wigneswaran conducted investigations in respect of four ministers.
The inquiry had been concluded and the probe report that determined that two Ministers have been found guilty while two others have been exonerated of allegations.
“You stated in the Provincial Council that you would act on the basis of the report of the Committee of Inquiry.
“You have called for the resignations of the two Ministers found guilty. No one has complained about that decision.
“The complaint is about the action taken by you against the other two Ministers who have been cleared of charges in the Committee’s probe. This action is being seen as a violation of the principles of natural justice, and unwarranted.
“I called you on Tuesday the 13th to convey to you that such action could be resisted by the two Ministers not found guilty as well as by the members of the Provincial Council, and suggested caution.
“I also expressed concern that while you had been in touch with the other leaders of the constituent parties in the Tamil National Alliance, you had not discussed this matter with MP Mavai Senathirajah and Leader of the Ilankai Tamil ArasuKatchi (ITAK). You had called him later in the day and he had conveyed to you the opinion that action should not be taken against Ministers not found guilty.”
The Chief Minister, being a former Judge of the Supreme Court was however tough on the four Ministers who were alleged to have been involved in financial frauds and power abuse after the Northern Provincial Council urged him to take action against them.
When pressure mounted on the Chief Minister to take action, he appointed a Committee of Inquiry to probe allegations against the four Ministers who were alleged to have been involved in corruption and power abuse.
The Committee found two of them guilty whilst the other two, namely Dr. Sathialingman and Mr.Deneeswaran were exonerated but the Chief Minister called for a second round of inquiry which Wigneswaran said was essential because the complainant was not present on that day. He said they were going about telling others they were not guilty but he wanted a proper investigation because allegations were mounting against them.
The ITAK rejected this second probe claiming that it was against party rules and he had no right to even hold an inquiry.
TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told Ceylon Today that “Tomorrow (Monday) we would be able to draw a definite conclusion on the matter. The Chief Minister has no right to order compulsory leave or to reopen the probe. We warned him about the situation emphasizing the fact that it would aggravate the members but he went ahead with his ad hoc decisions.”
Senathirajah said it’s up to the Chief Minister now to take the right decisions and that is exactly what MP Sampanthan has told him in the letter.
“The Chief Minister should know that there are 15 members from the ITAK and 6 from the Opposition who have tabled the ‘No Confidence’ motion against him. We will have more discussions and come to an amicable solution by tomorrow (June 19) . What we have heard is that the Chief Minister has ‘agreed to keep the two Ministers on whilst holding further investigations into the corruption charges. He conducted investigations on the four and only wanted these two Ministers to go on compulsory leave, which is incorrect, MP Senathirajah said.
Wigneswaran has claimed that the entire episode as a plot against him hatched in Colombo, supporting it with the comment that already Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka who visited Jaffna a few weeks ago told some persons that Wigneswaran will be ousted soon.
He said, ” Irrespective of whether I take or do not take action against them, there is a plot to throw me out and that was planned ahead.”