26 May, 2019

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Flipside Of The Wigneswaran Coin

By Rasika Jayakody

Rasika Jayakody

Following the TNA’s decision to field C.V. Wigneswaran as the Chief Minister Candidate for the forthcoming Northern Provincial Council election, ‘Thinakkural’, a Tamil daily, carried a front page cartoon depicting the “unanimity” with which Wigneshwaran was selected. In the cartoon, Mavai Senathirajah, who was the other contender for the CM candidacy, was seen ushering Wigneshwaran to the centre stage, holding his hand, while other TNA MPs were singing, dancing and playing drums in praise of the decision. The cartoon strongly indicated that Wigneswaran’s entry into the election was a landmark development as far as the Tamil community was concerned.

In reality however, the situation is different. Although Wigneswaran is the ideal choice for CM candidacy, there is a section of the TNA who are dissatisfied with the decision. Although there is unanimity of some sort on the surface, it is not so hard to fathom that a crisis is simmering at the bottom.

As Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka precisely pointed out, Wigneshwaran is the TNA’s Lakshman Kadirgamar. He has an illustrious track record as a former Supreme Court Judge. Educated at Royal College, Colombo, Wigneswaran’s son is married to the daughter of Vasudewa Nanayakkara, Minister of Social Integration. As a Magistrate and a District Judge, he has served in Northern, Eastern, North Central, Uva and Western Provinces. Three years after his appointment to the Supreme Court, Wigneswaran bade adieu to the legal service in 2004. He is multilingual and has earned respect, not only from the legal fraternity, but also from the every community of the country, as a brilliant judge and a legal practitioner. One should not forget the fact that though Wigneswaran is fielded by the TNA’s as its candidate, he comes in the garments of a common candidate for Tamils in the North, whether that is an eyewash or not.  It is widely known in political circles that TNA Leader R. Sampanthan and his ally, M.A. Sumanthiran played a key role in promoting Wigneswaran’s candidacy. One should also be mindful of the fact that Sampanthan too faces a leadership crisis in his party, although it is not as intense as the internecine battle in the UNP.

Mavai Senathiirajah, as opposed to Wigneswaran, represents the darkest era of Tamil politics. He was first appointed to Parliament as the replacement of former TULF Leader A. Amirthalingam who was killed by an LTTE gunman in 1989. Ten years later, he was again appointed to Parliament in the very same manner following the death of Neelan Thirichelvan, who was killed by the LTTE in a meticulous suicide bomb attack. The better part of Senathirajah’s parliamentary career, like those of his colleagues, was spent under the jackboot of the LTTE. Even after the demise of the LTTE, Senathirajah and his TNA parliamentary colleagues failed to reinvent themselves in politics.

Bringing the Wigneswaran factor into the equation will help the TNA to readjust and re-position its policies, in the absence of Prabhakaran and the LTTE. At the same time, it will give some impetus to the moderate elements of Tamil politics, who were actually the very first victims of the LTTE violence. In the absence of the LTTE, it is important to resurrect the voice of moderates who are capable of bridging the gap between the North and South and who have a genuine intention of addressing core issues faced by the Tamils in the North. Wigneswaran, under the present circumstances, is the ideal choice for the task.

The main characteristic of the ‘Tamil politics’ before Tamil militancy came into existence was the polarization of moderates and radicals at different ends of the spectrum. This was actually the genesis of the LTTE. Even when S.J.V. Chelvanayagam broke away from the All Ceylon Tamil Congress and formed the ITAK, the bifurcation happened along the same lines. In the mid n1950s, radicals started rallying around the ITAK while moderates supported the Tamil Congress led by G.G. Ponnambalam. In the early 1970s, the emerging Eelamist student unions attracted the support of radicals while the moderates still supported Ponnambalam. This equation changed in a systematic manner with the formation of the TULF and the subsequent rise of the Tamil militancy with Velupillai Prabhakaran at the helm.

With the demise of Prabhakaran and the LTTE, Tamil politicians (and politics) received a new lease of life. It created some room for moderates and intellectuals of the Tamil community, who were brutally suppressed by Prabhakaran, to make a comeback. But the TNA, until last week, acted blind to this new equation. With the nomination of Wigneswaran as the CM candidate, the TNA, wittingly or otherwise, has deviated from the early stance and made its way into the post-2009 equation.

Doubts have arisen as to whether Wigneswaran’s candidacy will create a split in the TNA. The potential flashpoint, in my view, would not be Wigneswaran’s standpoint on the full implementation of the 13th amendment or acceptance of federalism or anything of that sort. Before any other thing, his milieu, approach towards problems and way of governance will create fresh ripples among certain groups of the party. This would eventually create a clear bifurcation in the TNA, and radicals, in all likelihood, will polarize at the opposite end. This will take everyone back to square one!

If the TNA really understand what it’s doing, one could think that the party has embarked upon the process of re-invention. To complete this process, a lot of homework needs to be done. At the same time, the ruling party should understand the value and the importance of a contender of Wigneswaran’s caliber and give him the due respect, without playing into the hands of the pro-LTTE Diaspora by reviewing or revoking his judgments. Wigneswaran in that sense is a litmus test not only for the TNA, but also for the government.

*The writer is a Sri Lankan journalist who may be contacted at rasikajayakody2@gmail.com 

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    A very good one again ! Well articulated !

    • 0
      0

      Yes, good one -keep it coming!
      All Sri Lankan political parties need modernization: Currently they suffer from dynastic politics, corruption, NEPOTISM and a lack of INTERNAL DEMOCRACY – and the ABSENCE OF WOMEN in LEADERSHIP.
      To modernize the political parties of Lanka need to have 50 percent reservation for women and youth and get rid of the doddering old men and nepotistic dictators (Ranil Wickramasinghe, Mahinda Rajapass etc) who are destroying democratic institutions and processes and have ruined Lanka.
      The TNA must start a program of modernization by first pro-actively bringing in talented and qualified women and youth into leadership positions. It needs to be an inclusive and caste-less party to serve the Tamil people and set an example to the rest, especially since Sri Lanka political party culture is rotten to the core – UNP, SLFP, JVP, SLMC etc.

  • 0
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    It is never a case of radicals vs moderates. Both are two sides of the same coin of Tamil Nationalism which can never be simply wished away. As to which side falls at a particular time depends on the toss, the toss made by the ruling power of the majority community. It is as simple as that.

    • 0
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      “It is never a case of radicals vs moderates. Both are two sides of the same coin of Tamil Nationalism which can never be simply wished away……..”. Exactly.

      A fitting answer to those who try to equate Wigneswaran to Kadirgamar. Wigneswaran is immersed in the communal cesspit. Some of the dishonest answers he gave at couple of interviews lay bare those communal sentiments. As time goes by he will expose himself more. Let’s see whether he could rise above it like Kadir did. Of course LK had to pay the ultimate price for it at the hands of one side of the coin Sengodan mentions while Wigneswaran may still survive thanks to extremist violence free atmosphere brought about by Rajapakse brothers.

  • 0
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    What is referred to as radicalisation today is an expression that found its way to the political discourse in the early 1970s and, therefore, I am afraid the Writer errs when he notes “In the mid 1950s, radicals started rallying around the FP (ITAK) while moderates supported the Tamil Congress led by G.G. Ponnambalam…” Lankan Tamil politics in the 1950s centered around individual leaders until the winds of Tamil Nationalism, triggered off in then Madras State influenced by the anti-Hindi cry, by men like Periyar, CN Annadurai et al found increasing audiences, particularly among the young, in the Tamil-majority areas of Ceylon stung by the alleged injustices of Sinhala Only politics.

    I have elsewhere taken exception along the popular view of the Tamil Nation that Justice Wigneswaran should not be confused with the late
    Lakshman Kadirgamar vis-a-vis the good of the Tamil people in the Island. Wignesewaren’s candidacy has one clear advantage in that his name cannot be linked to the LTTE and its often violent form of politics that saw even Tamil suffer considerably.

    BTW, why is President Rajapakse playing his kind of strange politics by failing to nominate the date of the NPC Election? It is not India that suffers by this cat and mouse game but the anxious Lankan Tamil Nation.

    Senguttuvan

  • 0
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    Tamil nation ? Not aware of such a thing !

    Anyway stay anxious…..the election may be just a pipe dream.

    • 0
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      Don Quixote

      “Tamil nation ? Not aware of such a thing !”

      Are you aware of any other thing?

      Please let us know it won’t take more than two lines.

  • 0
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    The NPC elections will be held on the 28th September according to the announcement of the Elections Commissioner.

    Dr. Rajaingham Narendran

    • 0
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      Thanks for the information Vet. Narendran…
      There is over 2 months and people like you have plenty of time to bring out the vote for TNA and Wigneswaran.

      How strange? For the first time your brother was detained by the Vanni authorities and your brother in law, we are on the same side. LMAO.

      @Senguttavan. I agree with your comments.

      Donald Gnanakone
      Tamils For Justice.

    • 0
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      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

      Are you still being tempted by Douglas?

      You should contest the elections as CT man in NPC reflecting concerns and ignorance of all Colombo Telegraph readership.

      Basically our man in Yarl-desh.

      • 0
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        I was reminded of the ‘ forbidden Apple’ when Dev made a similar proposition. An offer from Douglas would not be any different. I will be MY man in the north and rest of Sri Lanka . I shall continue to express my opinion and inform what I know, through CT, while I potter around by flower- fruit- vegetable garden , travel around and enjoy the comradeship of my dogs.

        Incidentally, I have communicated with Manisekaran.

        Dr. RN

        • 0
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          Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

          “Incidentally, I have communicated with Manisekaran.”

          Thanks

          • 0
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            When the house is burning someone asked to light his cigar.

            • 0
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              Sellam

              “When the house is burning someone asked to light his cigar.”

              No , I didn’t. Its a case of mistaken identity.

              It could be my sister.

    • 0
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      Thank you. I am unable to see confirmation in the Website of the Election Commissioner nor from the sections of the media that can be described as credible. If indeed the date is officially announced the local media would have kept this in the front pages for weeks. The speculation is the regime thinks it is keeping the Indians in suspense and worry by holding the date in abeyance. If so, I fear this will be one more monumental miscalculation like the Grease Yakka stupidity.

      Senguttuvan

  • 0
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    There will always be two or more views and this does not mean disunity. It shows a vibrancy of shared opinions and a final consensus of some giving up their views for the greater good. This is a big step in Tamil politics.

    However, in the past tt was disunity that destroyed them, not the Sinhalese.

    As long as KPs, Karunas, Douglass and Piliyans are around the internal divisions will be played to the maximum and the Tamils will be the losers. Petty egos, greed for power and selfishness will cause division and this will be used by the Sinhalese government to their advantage.

    So, this is a big step forward in Tamil politics and it is hoped that the UNP will learn from the TNA

  • 0
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    Its quite true Wigneswaran cannot be linked to LTTE.

    Although he is linked to Sinhala state where he enjoyed status and prestige contradicting Tamils and 2nd class mantra. He will have to explain why he has jumped on a Tamil nazi bandwagon when he himself received royal treatment at the hands of the Sinhalese! By joining the Tamil Nazis he risks losing the goodwill he has built up over the years.

  • 0
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    Isn’t resurrecting the lives of the ex captives with respect to, their livelihood, education of their kids,decent shelter, decent jobs and a peaceful environment more important than the TNA proxies reinventing themselves?.

    Are the Police Powers to Sambandan and now Wigneswaran with the Land Bank of all Govt property going to help the excaptives to catch up with their cousins in Wellawatta and elsewhere?.

    Isn’t the priority to turn Killiocochchi in to a Madawachchi, although our Right Wing Ranil and his Christian mates who are the news allies of the TNA didn’t know the difference between the two?.

    And Chavakaccheri in to a Galle or Matara as a gateway to once great city of Jaffna?.

    Incidentally these important issues didn’t get a mention in the aspring CM and Wine loving Vellala’s long spiel to the media.

    By the way was there a translation of his interview for the benefit of the ex captives?.

    Wiggi was only interested in Police Powers. and Land rights not only for himself but for the East too.

    Interestingly he totally agreed that TNA’s is as same Prabkaran’s vision and mission , except that the latter used violence, and former is more into Satyagrahas.

    Is it a pointer to the future if he becomes the CM?,

  • 0
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    Like with any political party, there are those who support and those who oppose. With respect to the TNA, I saw both elements at work on the part of the people. It is crucial to recognize that Wigneswaran comes largely from outside the political machinery of the country and this will serve as a better trust meter than those entrenched in politics. Mistrust of politicians is something that is not unique to the Sinhalese. Despite many earnest publications about the Tamil people being behind the TNA, my personal experience of the ground situation is quite different. Vigneswaran might split the TNA but in all probability he will unify the Tamil people who will align themselves behind the man not the party. I’d prefer a united people than a united political party.

    • 0
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      Well said1 Personally, I think both he and M.A. Sumanthiran represent the future of Sri Lanka as a whole.

    • 0
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      That’a an interesting perspective !

  • 0
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    The elections will be held. What is uncertain is whether the Governor will remove some of the Council’s powers in the future.

    • 0
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      Taraki

      What I don’t understand is why the stupid Tamils have now come around to accepting Provincial Councils after 25 years of war which destroyed many lives and properties not to mention foregone development?

      Could you shed some light.

      Please note after 25 years from its inception, suddenly the prelates have decided that these Councils deserve abolition.

      I am bit confused.

  • 0
    0

    This common candidate is very similar to the last common candidate we had last time. Either Mr.Viganshwaran will have to dance to the TNA tune if elected or he will get same treatment as the last common candidate. Somewhere deep I fear this guy might be more dangerous than VP and will be much harder to get rid of.

  • 0
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    NAK

    “Somewhere deep I fear this guy might be more dangerous than VP and will be much harder to get rid of.”

    Is he going to be a Tamil Gota?

    He is merely a candidate.
    Why do you want to get rid of him?
    Your fear reflects your stupidity.

    Would you like Gota to get rid of him just because you have a fear?

    Good thinking, keep it up.

  • 0
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    India will teach rajapaksa’a GOONS a lesson in near future .
    Wait & watch

    • 0
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      shiv

      If I were you I wouldn’t bet on it.

  • 0
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    The CONSPIRACY………….

    Suresh Premachandran with an excuse went out for a smoke got the entire EPRLF higherachy decimated by the LTTE.

    Mavai Senathiiraja in order to get into the parliament got Appapillai Amirthalingam killed by the LTTE AND then again got nominated to the parliament after Neelan Thiruchelvam was killed by the LTTE.

    DID MAVAI SENATHIIRAJA orchestrate both killings????????????

    After Vigneshwaran win and get elected as CM, will Mavai Senathiraja get Vigneshwaran eliminated mysteriously and occupy the CM seat ??

    Mavai Senathiraja could have prevented Amirthalingam’s murder as he was heavily involved in internal mechanisms of the LTTE in the North, BUT he did not despite Amirthalingams trusting him.

  • 0
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    The possibility of the elections being cancelled after the voting due
    to “engineered” flaws with the assistance of the Forces, by the EC, so
    that a Voting will be re-scheduled after the Novem CW gathering, when MR
    will be a CW-Statesman and deserve to win the NPC by hook or crook?
    India will and can continue to have hold its tail between its legs.

    • 0
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      Now you are thinking like the Rajapaksas!

  • 0
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    Mavai Senathirajah is the living tiger now. Not only the Sri Lankan govt. all the law abiding Tamils shall take not of this fact now.

  • 0
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    I disagree with the statement that Wigneswaran is the equivalent of Lakshman Kadiragama. Wigneswaran has separatist intentions whilst Kadiragama was the opposite. They are poles apart, if you ignore that both are lawyers.
    As for his nomination, is he the TNA candidate or Indian Govt candidate? With an Indian forced 13th amendment causing so much trouble, it would not augur well for Sri Lanka to also have an Indian nominated candidate.

  • 0
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    Super comment – Wigneswaran in that sense is a litmus test not only for the TNA, but also for the government! It seems its the common man’s domain to chart a moderate course.. cause the politics pulls to extremes. Lets see how the politics fare now, in what we can hope, are less extreme times than what we have been through. The whole country needs to find the confidence of Colombo.. here i mean in the more positive sense of… comfortable with diversity. Maybe the timing is right for it.. lets watch how the drama unfolds.

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