As Colombo Telegraph exposed a few days ago, President Maithripala Sirisena’s amateur Governor appointee of the Northern Province Suren Rāghavan had made an attempt at making an ‘official visit’ to India without revealing the mandate of his visit, nor the list of people he intends to carry out ‘government negotiations with’.
Speaking to Colombo Telegraph on the condition of anonymity our Foreign Ministry source stated: “Governor acting entirely on his own steam had sent a request to go to India to negotiate the return of refugees from there. This clearly betrays his own personal aspiration to enter active politics”
“it appears that Rāghavan, ignorant of the powers not vested in him has attempted to use his political shortcuts to undermine the authority not just of the central government, but that of His Excellency the President,” another Foreign Ministry source said on Sunday.
A source at the Presidential Secretariat confirmed this attempt by Rāghavan stating “Rāghavan kept the President in the dark when seeking permission that he was venturing in to a serious violation of the constitution. However the President’s Secretary Udaya Seneviratne has taken prompt measures to update the President to avert a serious debacle”.
Strongly disputing Rāghavan’s claim our Foreign Ministry source stated “Governor Rāghavan is not awaiting President’s approval. That is a lie. The permission was granted by the President who was kept in the dark about Rāghavan’s actual intentions. Presidential Secretariat forwarded Rāghavan’s endorsed request to the Foreign Ministry which in turn was forwarded to the High Commission in India. Rāghavan is fully aware of this fact. We have also confirmed that Sri Lanka’s envoy to India, Ambassador Austin Fernando, a former Governor himself, has communicated his fact based, forth right observations on this matter in no uncertain terms, saving embarrassment to the President and the government”.
When questioned by Colombo Telegraph whether venturing in to state negotiations is a power vested in a Governor of a province, Rāghavan stated that “it is, according to the constitution I know. When questioned if foreign policy and refugee issues fell under the concurrent list between the provincial government and the central government, Raghavan replied “I’m not sure, I have to refer to the constitution”.
Under the 13th amendment, subjects falling separately under the provincial government and central government are spelt out whereas those subjects shared by the two entities are maintained in a concurrent list.
Commenting further on this debacle our source at the Presidential Secretariat opined: “it appears that the overconfident Governor about to venture in to a bipartisan negotiation with India was basically unaware or pretending to be unaware that he would be causing a serious violation of the constitution and foreign policy. Such ignorance or arrogance and overzealous attempts at abuse of power by the newly appointed Governors come at a heavy cost to the President and to the government”.