Wiggy Out ! if he can’t prove majority NPC support

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By 2017-06-18

BY PANCHAMEE HEWAVISSENTI

The Northern Provincial Council faces turmoil following the submission of a 'No Faith' motion to the Northern Governor signed by 21 councilors in the NPC against Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran. This comes in a sequel to his decision to strip two ministers in the NPC of their portfolios.

At a special meeting of the NPC on 14 June he warned Ministers P. Iyngaranesan and T. Kurukularasa to relinquish their portfolios and two other ministers P. Sathyalingam and P. Deneeswaran to go on compulsory leave, presumably because the two former ministers had been reportedly found guilty of corruption, while the probe into allegations against the two latter men were inconclusive. When this gridlock emerged, there emerged a proposal for C.V.K. Sivagnanam to take over from Wigneswaran as the new Chief Minister. Wigneswaran claimed he could not be ousted because he enjoyed the support of the majority of the public that voted him into office.

In an interview with Ceylon Today, Governor of the Northern Province Governor Reginald Cooray commented on the prevailing circumstance at the NPC and on what action he would be taking in accordance with the constitution to resolve the deadlock.

Excerpts:

?: What will be your approach in resolving the impasse at the Northern Provincial Council ?

A: A set of councilors at the Northern Provincial Council handed over a ' No Faith' motion to me last Wednesday evening stating that they can no longer have faith in their leader C.V.Wigneswaran. Twenty one councilors had signed that affidavit. At the moment, I am examining the authenticity of the signatures to make sure that whoever signed the affidavit is truly committed to the breach of faith statement against the CM. Once the signatures are confirmed as authentic , in accordance with tradition, I will inform the CM in writing of the ' No Faith' motion and will call on him to submit proof of a majority confidence vote for him in the Provincial Council. If he can do this he will be entitled to continue on office as the CM. But if he fails, we are required to look for another member of the Northern Provincial Council who can submit proof of such confidence in him by a majority of the Council.

After the ' No Faith' motion was submitted by those 21 members, another group of councilors, headed by M.K.Sivajilingam, submitted a petition against the motion that was signed by 15 councilors including CM C.V.Wigneswaran. This petition too is under examination by me at the moment.

There are 38 councilors in the Northern Provincial Council and the prospective chief ministerial candidate should obtain the support of at least 20 members.

?: Don't you agree with the fact that the majority of the public are in support of the present Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran ? This was abundantly evident at the public protest demonstration staged in support of C.V.Wigneswaran that a majority opposed the 'No Faith' motion tabled against him.

A: That protest cannot be taken as a comprehensive reflection of public perceptions about the issue. Normally, the majority of the public do not air their views in an aggressive manner and often remain silent. That protest could merely have been stage managed by vested interests. This type of protest does not essentially reflect the majority public opinion. Hence, it is hard to come to a conclusion as to whether the majority of the public support the CM or are opposed to him.

?: The probe committee comprising retired judges proved allegations against two NPC ministers who were later ordered by the CM to resign. The CM further announced that two other ministers should go on compulsory leave. How ethical were those actions of his to order resignations and ordering others to go on compulsory leave?

A: The Committee was appointed by Chief Minister Wigneswaran. We are not aware of how the Committee operates. In this particular case we can see that a member of an alliance has appointed a probe committee to investigate alleged acts of corruption of members belonging to the same alliance. The Committee has deemed some NPC Ministers being guilty of corruption and some have been exonerated. The two NPC minsters who were asked to go on compulsory leave have been proved innocent of corruption.

Although, according to the constitution, a State official can be sent on compulsory leave, that law does not apply to the people's elected representatives. A more systematic procedure is needed to further analyze the probe committee's findings based on decisions of the CM. None of the NPC Ministers was proved guilty by a statutory investigative body such as CID or FCID. Hence, a question arises about the authenticity and the acceptability of decisions made by the CM based on findings of a Probe Committee appointed by him, with regard to his Ministers.

?: In case C.V.Wigneswaran is replaced by C.V.K.Sivagnanam, how will it affect the central government?

A: Government will not at all be affected by the change of Chief Ministers in the Northern Provincial Council as such decisions are not taken or influenced by the government. The alliance should decide if the present CM should remain in power or whether it is to replace him. If the present CM cannot prove a majority backing at the NPC, I have to appoint someone, who can prove that he commands that majority, in accordance with constitutional provisions.

The central government is prepared to work with any Chief Minister who will take office in a democratic manner.

?: What is the stance of the President with regard to the deadlock at the NPC?

A: The President has asked me to proceed in line with provisions in the constitution, in a democratic manner. He also advised me to not get tangled up with the political affairs of the NPC.

?: Supporters of C.V. Wigneswaran allege the plot to oust him has been hatched by the government. Any comment?

A: That is a view expressed by extremist politicians in the province. They constantly haul baseless accusations at the government.

This is a crisis that has emerged among the members of Tamil political parties in the North and the South has had nothing to do with it. This is a stalemate among the members of an alliance, representing the same province and of the same ethnic group. These politicians in the North accuse the central government of conspiracy. This is to cover up their incapability and ineptitude.

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