The Sunday Leader

TNA, Wigneswaran Rift Deepens

by Easwaran Rutnam

C. V. Wigneswaran

The rift between the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran deepened last week after Wigneswaran refused to resign as chairman of the newly formed Tamil People’s Council (TPC).

TNA Northern Provincial Council members had urged Wigneswaran to step down as chairman of the TPC as there is a conflict of interest between the TPC and the TNA.

Some TNA Provincial Council reminded Wigneswaran that he came to power as a result of the TNA and so he must follow the line of the TNA.

However sources said Wigneswaran had refused to step down saying he did not see an acceptable reason to do so.

The TPC consists of Tamil National People’s Front General Secretary Gejendrakumar Ponnambalam who is a strong critic of the TNA.

Wigneswaran has continued to maintain that the TPC is not an alternative political party to the TNA but yet he has made public statements which TNA members say go against the policy of the TNA.

However in a move seen as an attempt to reiterate his backing to the TNA leadership, Wigneswaran, on Thursday, urged all TNA provincial council members to back TNA leader R. Sampanthan to push for devolution of powers to the provinces.

Wigneswaran told a meeting attended by TNA parliamentarians and TNA members of the Northern and Eastern Province that devolution can be achieved only through Sampanthan.

The Sunday Leader reported last week that Wigneswaran will face pressure to resign or a no-confidence motion will be brought against him at the Northern Provincial Council if he fails to tow the line of the TNA. TNA Northern Provincial Council (NPC) members were to meet Wigneswaran last Sunday for key talks after having similar talks earlier but that meeting was postponed indefinitely at the eleventh hour.

On Thursday Wigneswaran did not attend the morning session of the meeting between TNA parliamentarians and TNA Provincial Council members but later appeared for the evening session. Issues related to the TNA, the policy of the party, and a political solution were among the matters discussed at the meeting held in Kilinochchi. The proposed new constitution was also discussed at the daylong meeting.

At the meeting Wigneswaran reiterated his position that the current government cannot be trusted as a whole and accused the government of following some similar policies as of that followed by the previous regime. Wigneswran has been taking a critical line on the Maithripala Sirisena–Ranil Wickremesinghe led government while the TNA has looked at working with the government.

Wigneswaran had even recently slammed the government at the National Thai Pongal festival in Jaffna attended by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Speaking at the festival in Jaffna also attended by UK State Minister Hugo Swire, the Northern Chief Minister had said that while the Tamils in the North recognise the change following the elections last year, they still live in fear and suspicion. He slammed the presence of a large number of soldiers in the North, the failure to free more land held by the military and the failure to abolish the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

The Prime Minister later responded to the comments made by Wigneswaran saying the issues were being addressed in consultation with the Tamil National Alliance.

However no matter what Wigneswaran says, the Tamil diaspora have also made it clear they are behind the TNA and the new government.

The London based Global Tamil Forum and the Canada based Canadian Tamil Congress are among some of the leading Tamil diaspora groups who have agreed to work with the new government to address the issues of the Tamils in the North and East.At a dinner hosted by the Canadian Tamil Congress last weekend in Canada, Raj Thavaratnasingham, president of the CTC, said that while the CTC is not happy with the pace at which the changes are taking place in Sri Lanka, they appreciate the efforts being made to steer the country in the right direction.

He was also thankful to the Tamil National Alliance for their leadership in working towards achieving peace for the Tamil people.

The dinner was attended by several political leaders, elected officials and community leaders including Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion, Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne, Toronto Mayor John Tory, Global Tamil Forum (GTF) president Fr. S.J. Emmanuel, GTF spokesperson Suren Surendiran, Canadian Ministers John McCallum, Dr. Jane Philpott, and Dr. Kirsty Duncan, members of the federal parliament, Ontario New Democratic party leader Andrea Howarth, Members of provincial parliament, Stouffville Mayor Justin Altman, York Region Police Chief Eric Jolliffe, professionals, members of law enforcement, media, business and community leaders.

Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion brought a greetings message from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

At the event, a “Living Hero” award was presented to Sampanthan. The award recognises the work of heroic individuals for their selfless work in bettering the lives of others. The award is given to a person of Tamil origin who has demonstrated exemplary leadership, courage, empathy and services in challenging circumstances.

The award was presented by GTF president Fr. S.J. Emmanuel and CTC board director Suresh Muththiah. TNA spokesperson and Member of Parliament M. A. Sumanthiran accepted the award on behalf of Sampanthan.


8 Comments for “TNA, Wigneswaran Rift Deepens”

  1. Lanka Watch

    There is school of thought emerging now among the Tamils is that Mr. Wigneswaran CM,NPC may be right in his saying that the current govt. cannot be trusted and it is playing for time. and following similar policies of the past regime but not in harsh ways, yet.

    The recent statement made by the president that he will not allow foreign judges
    and lawyers participating in war crime cases as against previous statements issued in this connection so that the perpetrators of the crimes get freed from the clutches of the law as no local judge will take a risk of his life to pass judgements against the accused, as happened during the last regime. However the UN high comm.
    who conducted the war crime triibunal will deal with the President on that matter. Secondly, his mighty hurry to have a naval base at Mullaitheevu area in addition to no. of bases already existing, including a mega base at Palaly and that too during peace time, gives fear and suspicion among the Tamils of N/E and will doubt whether the Govt. is sincere in bringing peace and reconciliation to the Tamils or wants to keep N/E as occupied land with armed personal placed at every door step. Six years after the war is over,the people are still languishing in make shift refugee camps, while their own lands are still not released for occupation for no reason. The President is a witness to it as he has seen it himself.

    TNA’s wait and see policy will boomerang against them and it is time they engage
    the Govt. for talks, right away and Wiggie should join them , instead splitting the
    party. TPC should stay under the chairmanship of Mr. Wigneswaran and function
    as advisory wing of TNA, and give timely advices. Govt. did give assurances
    to the Tamils at the start when they were in powerful position but today, opposition
    forces are gaining strength .

    • raj

      Lanka watch!
      Actually Wiggy’s stand is making sure that TNA lives up to the promises given the Tamils in the past election. Actually, the government is preparing for next war against Tamils. As a result, it has increased its military spending and procurement. The more Tamil suffer the the it makes Singhalese happy (J.R.Jayawardana, the former president.

  2. Srivan

    Tamils divided are doomed. The CM is a righteous person and this is well known, not a SL politician which is also better known for camouflaging the truth! Else, why is the country in such a a parlous state? The Tamil plight cannot be served by going along with what is dished out but by calling for what is right and just.

  3. raj

    The government has already started soft-war against Tamils. To do so, it has infiltered withing Tamils organizations and political parties internally and externally. To do so, it will please some Tamils who can do this work. One of them is Mr. Sumanthiran whose interpretations are an insult to the intelligent of the people. In the long term, Tamil Diaspora will be divided so that there will be no resistance against agression of the Sri Lankan government against Tamils. Likewise, now TNA is divided because the government has infiltered Mr. sumanthiran to carry out that work.

  4. raj

    Mr. Sampanthan is not capable of resisting any pressure externally and internally, and he is very much relies on Mr. sumanthiran who is also MP and party member. If Mr. Sampanthan is an honest person, he would not have accepted opposition leader post or he would have resigned to let someone who is more energetic to lead TNA. There is no use for Tamils when Mr. Sampanthan is being an opposiiton leader. He is not a real opposition leader and he has become yes man to the government.

  5. raj

    The most honest politicians among Tamils is Mr. Wigneswaran. He is not only honest but also more intelligent than Mr. Sumanthiran. Mr. Sumanthiran is thinking that he is the most intellectual among leagal community, but he is not smart as he think. Mr. Sumanthiran is nothing when it comes to international level legal matter. He is simply misleading Tamils for his own benefits from the government of Sri Lanka.

  6. Just Society

    Somerset Maugham said tradition is only a guide and not a jailer.

  7. Naga Ramalingam

    This is the most crucial time for the Tamils, their leaders can make or mar their future. Why is TNA silent on the most damaging statement by President Sirisena that he would not allow foreign judges to participate in the so called hybrid inquiry? TNA signally failed to influence the government to release Tamil prisoners, and to remove or reduce the size of the Army in the North. It is pathetic to see the plight of the war affected people, but TNA is diverting the attention by talking about new constitution which appears to be a far cry. Wigneswaran is honest in openly telling the people what reality they are facing, rather than just supporting the Government on face value. Already there are signs that this government is not honouring its words.

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