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Wigneswaran's TPC heading for trouble

Sampanthan takes NPC CM to task, Pasupathy rejects invite to draft new proposal:

Although President Maithripala Sirisena has claimed he perceived no problem with regard the TNA's dissident political front, the Tamil People's Council (TPC), political observers say new developments indicate the Council, given the current political atmosphere, will invariably be a short-lived endeavour.

TNA leader R. Sampanthan has already taken TPC leader and Northern Provincial Council (NPC) Chief Minister (CM) C. V. Wigneswaran to task for his role in creating the Council, pointing out that he was nominated by the party's main constituent the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), to run for the September 2013 NPC polls as a TNA candidate, and that was elected by the people on the TNA manifesto, which clearly featured the nature of a political package to them.

He had accused Wigneswaran of violating his commitment and obligation to the people after having obtained their mandate on the TNA manifesto.

He had also pointed out that those who formed the TPC, together with Wigneswaran, are leaders of Tamils political parties who were totally rejected by the people in past elections.

Tilting the balance further, one of TPC's frontliners and leader of TNA constituent, the Eelam People's Revolutionary Front (EPRL) Suresh Premachandran, a former parliamentarian who strongly opposed the TNA on its moderate stand over a political package for the Tamils, has stated he would now work with both the TNA and the TPC.

Dealing another blow to the TPC, Chairman of the TNA- controlled NPC C. V. K. Sivagnanam and ministers of the council have openly criticised Wigneswaran for intentionally launching the political front which, they claim, will weaken the TNA. Expressing solidarity with the TNA and its political objectives, Sivagnanam has predicted the TPC "will be blown away with the wind before too long".

Meanwhile, former Attorney General (AG) and constitutional expert, Siva Pasupathy, who worked for the LTTE after serving his full term as AG and helped draft the LTTE's infamous Internal Self-Government Authority (ISGA), had turned down a request from Wigneswaran to join the TPC as his personal representative on the sub-committee on constitutional reform.

Radical proposal

Pasupathy had reportedly told Wigneswaran in no uncertain terms that any radical proposal will delay a solution to the Tamil problem that is now being worked out by the government in consultation with the TNA. Many believe this to be in reciprocation to the government's good will gesture of de - proscribing eight pro-LTTE Diaspora organisations. These include the Australian Tamil Congress, the Canadian Tamil Congress, Global Tamil Forum, National Council of Canadian Tamils, Tamil National Council, Tamil Youth Organisation and the World Tamil Co-ordinating Committee.

Australia-based Siva Pasupathy who had gone to Jaffna on a private-visit last week was approached by Wigneswaran to be his representative on the TPC's sub-committee to draft proposal on the political package.

But Pasupathy had outright rejected the idea of a separate political front and a separate proposal at a time when things are moving in the right direct towards a political solution.

He had also stated that the new front will contribute to disunity among the Tamils, when unity is the dire need of the hour.

The TNA is now in the process of formulating its proposal to the Constitution Council as solution to the Tamil issue.

Explaining the salient features of the proposal, a party stalwart on conditions of anonymity told the Sunday Observer the proposal "will be based on a unified Northeastern Province, within a united Sri Lanka.

However, he said the proposal would call for unfettered power-sharing arrangements to administer their own affairs in regard inter-alia to development, infrastructure, culture, language, religion and land.

Holding consultations

The TNA is also holding consultations with the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) which mainly represents the Muslims of the North and East.

It has not been possible to find out whether the SLMC will endorse the TNA proposal or submit its own separate proposal.

TPC's sub-committee on constitutional reform met in Jaffna for the first time on Saturday, January 2. The panel, which has representatives from several Tamil parties, including the ITAK, the main constituent of the TNA, is expected to finalise its proposals by January 30.

The proposals will be thrown open for public comment and a final set of proposals will be submitted to the Constitutional Assembly by March-April, according to TPC sources.

The proposal is likely to be based on the 'Thimpu Principles', the main feature of which would be the right of the Tamils to self-determination, according the sources.

Wigneswaran in choosing Pasupathy as his nominee, is likely to have expected the latter to take a radical line on the constitutional question stressing the need to abide by the 'Thimpu Principles' put forward by Tamil militants in 1985. The most important demand of the militants then was the recognition of the Tamils' right to self-determination. Pasupathy would also have been go by Wigneswaran's theory that the Tamils have been subject to 'continuous genocide' since 1948 and that radical remedial measures will have to be taken. Although the TPC is diverse in composition, its main prop, the Tamil National Peoples' Front (TNPF) is a firm believer in self-determination, according to reports.

The TPC has the backing of certain pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora organisations, especially the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) led by V. Rudrakumaran, and constitutional experts from overseas are also expected come down to Jaffna for consultations on the drafting process, sources said. The TPC is of the view that the TNA is supporting the incumbent government and is unlikely to work for a 'just solution' to the Tamil problem.

On December 26, one week after the launch of the TPC, leader of the TNA R. Sampanthan held one-on-one talks with Wigneswaran on ironing out inter-party differences. Although Sampanthan had said that the talks were cordial and constructive, Wigneswaran backed out and attended the second meeting of the TPC the following day.

Commenting on the formation of the TPC, Sampanthan said the TNA was elected by the Tamil people to address issues pertaining to their future. "There is a mandate given to the TNA at successive elections. We do not expect that mandate to be disturbed in any way by any person who has been elected on the same votes of the Tamil people. As a nominee of the TNA, and with a party to that mandate, we also observed that persons who have been rejected by the people are members of this so called body. We are actively engaged in fulfilling the mandate given to us by our people", he said.

The TNA too is now in the process of holding discussions with the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and other stakeholders on drafting its own proposals. Chairman of the Northern of the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) and forefront member of the TNA's main constituent, the ITAK, told the Sunday Observer that 'One Country, Two Nations' concept would be the ideology behind the proposal that the TNA would submit.

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