hen it comes to politics there is no difference between the North and South. In both parts of the country one’s self comes first while pushing the nation, the people and the nationality one represents into the back-burner. That was what happened when the committee appointed by Northern Provincial Council (NPC) Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran to investigate allegations against his board of ministers handed over its report to him.
The Chief Minister told the NPC last Wednesday when tabling the report that some of those who demanded an investigation against the ministers accusing them of incidents of fraud and corruption were reluctant to accept the findings. On the other hand the CM wanted to punish even those found not guilty for reasons best known to him.
The committee was appointed last year when 16 councillors complained against four of the five ministers, the fifth being Mr. Wigneswaran. Setting an example not only to the other provincial councils but also to the Central government, he had appointed a high level committee comprising two retired judges and a former government agent.
The investigation seemed to have been carried out in a manner that was not found fault with by any political party or social group or individual. However, all hell broke loose when Wigneswaran attempted to sack all four ministers including the two who had been cleared of all charges. Twenty one councillors including a section of the ruling party, the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) and the Opposition submitted a no-confidence motion to Provincial Governor Reginald Cooray against the Chief Minister. Another 15 members including those representing the smaller parties in the ruling party submitted another motion expressing confidence in him. Now Wigneswaran’s fate hangs in the balance until the council meets on Thursday.
Meanwhile, everybody has forgotten the anti-corruption drive in the province with the fate of the Chief Minister coming to the fore. This reminds us of the so-called anti-corruption drive of the yahapalanaya government which is fast becoming a farce, apparently because of the concerns of some government leaders about their survival.
The simple truth is that the year-long cold war between the ITAK and the other three constituent parties of the TNA -- the EPRLF, TELO and PLOTE has clouded the entire episode. Wigneswaran is known to be a thorn in the flesh of the TNA leadership, as it has not been able to control him and has become closer to the smaller parties than to his own party, the ITAK. He has passed several controversial resolutions such as the “genocide resolution” in his council to which the TNA leadership did not subscribe. He had also formed the Tamil Pepoples’ Council (TPC) with the support of those small parties, challenging the TNA leadership’s claim as the “sole representative” or the main representative of the Northern Tamils.
Wigneswaran seems to have played into the hands of his rivals by calling for the resignation of the two ministers who had not been found guilty of charges. Similar to what happened to the SLFP in the South, the TNA and the ITAK are on the brink of breaking apart, because of the game plan for survival of some of the smaller parties.
Many people in the South seem to be upbeat with the stories that Wigneswaran was going to be ousted on a no-confidence motion, as he had hurt them in the past by his controversial resolutions and hard-line statements. But the South has to be cautious in rejoicing with the events in the North, because of the possibility that an even more extremist person would replace Wigneswaran who is an intellectual and had lived among the Sinhalese but pushed to take an extremist line due to the circumstances created by the South and the North, during his tenure as Chief Minister.