P K Balachandran – COLOMBO
After a month of cooperation with the Mahinda Rajapaksa government, the Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-speaking Northern Province, C V Wigneswaran, has switched to confrontation.
On Thursday, Wigneswaran tried to inspect the Hindu temples and houses allegedly damaged by the Sri Lankan army in the Weligamam North High Security Zone (HSZ) knowing full well that no one could enter the HSZ without prior permission.
When Lankan troops told him that he ought to get prior permission from the Ministry of Defence in Colombo, Wigneswaran argued that, as CM, he had the right to visit any part of his province and that he was accompanied in this case by the priests of the damaged temples. But the troops would not budge.
On Wednesday, Wigneswaran and his Tamil National Alliance (TNA) observed the LTTE’s Great Heroes’ Day (Maaveerar Naal) defying the army’s warning that anyone observing the day dedicated to the dead of the terrorist LTTE, would be arrested. While Wigneswaran and his colleagues planted samplings symbolizing “renewal”, the students of Jaffna University lit torches symbolizing “resurgence”. The common people lit lamps in their houses.
On Monday and Tuesday, leaflets saying: “We will commemorate those who laid down their lives for freedom. We will remember them till the last breath,” were distributed at the main bus stand in Jaffna. For the first time after the 2006-2009 war, a Tamil MP praised Prabhakaran in Parliament. TNA MP S Sritharan had hailed him as a “hero”, drawing the ire of the Treasury Benches.
Earlier, Chief Minister Wigneswaran refused to co-chair two District Development Council meetings, as the Chair was a pro-government rival, Central minister Douglas Devananda.
Wigneswaran had also declared that he would not implement the “Mahinda Chinthanaya” which every Lankan government department is expected to implement.
In Colombo on Thursday, TNA’s chief R Sampanthan reiterated his party’s resolve not to participate in the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on constitutional reforms. Sampanthan said the Tamils were not ready for another rigmarole but expected the government to talk to the TNA to thrash out a political settlement of the ethnic question.