Alleging a government backed TNA move to oust outspoken Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran, a section of the Northern Provincial administration yesterday launched a protest campaign in the Jaffna peninsula and some parts of the Vanni region.
At the behest of those backing Wigneswaran, many shops and markets remained closed while schools reported low attendance. Protest leaders also raised black flags in the Northern Province.
On Thursday, several hundred Tamil students gathered outside Wigneswaran’s Jaffna Office, where they declared support to the CM.
Law enforcement authorities refrained from making an effort to open shops and markets.
Jaffna-based sources said that CM Wigneswaran had declared that he wouldn’t give in to undue pressure under any circumstances.
Tamil political sources told The Island that the top TNA leadership had received government backing for the unprecedented move in the wake of Wigneswaran’s recent order that two of his minister step down and two others go on leave in view of corruption charges pending further investigations. Having announced tough measures against all four, CM Wigneswaran took over their ministries.
The TNA comprises four political parties, including three ex-militant groups, namely the TELO, the PLOTE and the EPRLF.
Tamil political sources alleged that Northern Province Governor Reginald Cooray wouldn’t have accepted a petition signed by 21 councillors of the 38-member NPC demanding Wigneswaran’s removal without consulting Colombo. Though the dissidents had the backing of 22 members at the onset, one pulled out at the eleventh hour, they said.
The Governor is President’s representative in the province. Sources however admitted that subsequently, Governor Cooray had accepted another petition signed by 15 councillors in support of Wigneswaran thereby paving the way for a battle for supremacy in the council. The Governor received the petition last Wednesday (June 14) night from the dissident group led by C.V. K. Sivagnanam, who is also the Chairman (Speaker) of the NPC.
The Illankai Thamil Arusu Kadchi (ITAK) led TNA won a two-thirds majority at the first ever Northern Provincial Council polls on Sept 21, 2013. The TNA secured 30 seats whereas the UPFA and the SLMC obtained seven and one respectively. UPFA councillors have backed the controversial move against CM Wigneswaran.
Wigneswaran polled 132,255 preferential votes at the last provincial council election.
Jaffna based sources said the TNA and Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan had been trying to reach an understanding with Wigneswaran in respect of the two ministers asked to go on one month’s leave. Sources said that except for Uthayan owned by a TNA Jaffna District MP, other print media, including Valampuri were supportive of Wigneswaran. The ITAK leadership is concerned over the sharp split caused by the move against Wigneswaran pushing for a thorough international investigation into war crimes allegations.
Those close to Wigneswaran have blamed Jaffna District TNA MP M. A. Sumanthiran for the current crisis.
Well informed sources alleged that some influential Tamil Diaspora groups, too, had backed the move against CM Wigneswaran. (Island)