- Jeyalalitha looks for any issue on which she could lash out at the Sri Lankan government
- Wigneswaran opened a can of worms by expressing his willingness to meet Jeyalalitha the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
- Tamil Nadu leaders including Jeyalalitha stand for a separate Tamil state in Sri Lanka.
Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran seems to be fond of doing what could be irritating to the government, in spite of the Tamil people he represents being benefited by it or not. It should be the reason behind his craving for an audience with the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jeyalalitha Jeyaram who was re-elected for the post last month despite allegations of mass-scale corruption against her.
Jeyalalitha is a person who always looks for some issue on which she could lash out at the Sri Lankan government irrespective of what political party rules the island nation. At times she would accuse the Sri Lankan government for harassing the Tamil Nadu fishermen who trespass into Sri Lankan seas for poaching, or at another she would request the Indian Central Government to abrogate the 1974 agreement with Sri Lanka on Kachchativu Island and retrieve it. Or she would call the Central Government to bring a motion in the UN General Assembly to conduct a referendum in the Northern part of Sri Lanka on carving out of a separate Tamil State.
Nobody among the Sri Lankan Tamil leaders, the leaders of the Sri Lankan government or those of the Indian government takes her seriously, but that does not deter her from trying to become the “champion of the Sri Lankan Tamil cause.” On the other hand nothing has been gained by the Tamils in Sri Lanka or Tamil Nadu by the ultra-nationalistic rhetoric and antiques by the Tamil Nadu leaders such as Jeyalalitha and Opposition Leader Muthuvel Karunanidhi.
Irritating the Sri Lankan government the Northern Province Chief Minister also got two resolutions adopted in his provincial council recently. Soon after the new government led by President Maithripala Sirisena took office he initiated a resolution claiming that genocide against the Tamil people had taken place during the last lap of the war between the LTTE and the armed forces. Later he had attributed the passage of the resolution to a statement by State Minister for Defence Ruwan Wijeyawardene that the army would not be withdrawn from the North.
Adopting a resolution on the alleged genocide purely on its merit can be apprehensive, but doing so just because of a statement made by a minister which had got nothing to do with the essence of the resolution was ludicrous, and did not befit to be associated with a person like Wigneswaran who was hailed even by the Sinhalese nationalist leaders for his integrity during his tenure as a Supreme Court judge.
Another resolution initiated by Wigneswaran in his provincial council was ridiculed even by his own party, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). When the resolution calling for an international investigation into the alleged violation of international human rights and humanitarian laws by the security forces during the war was presented in the Northern Provincial Council, the TNA leaders had to point out that the report of such a probe by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) was to be submitted in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
It was against this backdrop that Wigneswaran had opened another can of worms by expressing his willingness to meet Jeyalalitha who was re-elected last month as the Chief Minister of the State of Tamil Nadu. He first moved a resolution in his council to congratulate her on her re-election as the Chief Minister while many parts of the country including parts of the Colombo and the North had been inundated by floods. His resolution was met with stiff resistance in the council where members pointed out the inappropriateness of such a resolution disregarding the plight of the flood victims.
The Indian media had pointed out that a meeting between the Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and the Northern Province of Sri Lanka could only materialise with the consent of the Indian Central Government as the matter falls under external affairs which is a subject under the purview of the Centre. This is applicable to Wigneswaran as well since foreign affairs is a subject handled by the Centre in Sri Lanka as well.
However, a meeting between the two Chief Ministers in their personal capacity cannot be a problem since it did not need the consent of the Central Governments of the two countries. However, what Wigneswran had meant seems to be an official meeting with Jeyalalitha and the question remains as to what they are going to discuss even if the Central Governments of the two countries sanctioned such a meeting.
Wigneswaran’s party, the TNA which had once accepted the LTTE as the sole representative of Tamil people has recently said many a time that it would not demand a separate state within Sri Lanka, but seeks a solution with maximum devolution to the Northern and the Eastern Provinces. On the other hand Tamil Nadu leaders including Jeyalalitha stand for a separate Tamil state within the territory of Sri Lanka.
Wigneswaran is well aware that Tamil Nadu leaders are not genuine in their demand for a Tamil Eelam and he had openly said so to an Indian newspaper during the campaign for the Northern Provincial Council election in September, 2013. He told that Tamil Nadu politicians use the Sri Lankan Tamils’ issue for their own gains, much to the detriment of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
“In Tamil Nadu, unfortunately, our problems have been taken to be the ball to be played in the tennis court between two or three parties. They [Tamil Nadu politicians] start hitting the ball from one side to the other and it is we who get hit by that” he told The Hindu in the midst of his campaign. Comparing the Sri Lankan situation to a home where the husband and wife are having a fight, he said: “We will fight, but maybe sometimes we might come together. The next door neighbour must not come and say ‘you must divorce, you must divorce, you must divorce’. That is not your business.”
Also it is a well known fact that the fishermen issue between the two countries has been a result of poaching by Tamil Nadu fishermen in Sri Lankan seas. In other words the problem has arisen as the Tamil Nadu fishermen have been stealing for the past several decades the aquatic resources of the Tamils of northern Sri Lanka for whom there had been a demand for a Tamil Eelam. If the two Chief Ministers engage officially, Wigneswaran would have to emphasise what he had told The Hindu three years ago and to stress the rights of the Northern fishermen.