President Maithripala Sirisena has expressed concern over land and water issues in the North and East, at the meeting of the Presidential Task Force to look into post-war development activities in the North and East.
The meeting was held with the participation of Leader of the Opposition and the TNA, R. Sampanthan on Wednesday at Parliament complex.
In contrast to the adamant nature of the previous regime in releasing lands in the possession of the Armed Forces, President Sirisena has sent out a directive to his officials that legitimate lands of the people in the North and East should be released before the end of this year.
It is in this backdrop, that the people in Keppapilavu in the Mullaitivu District in particular and in various other parts in the North and East are still agitating for their lands to be released and President Sirisena’s initiative to ensure the legitimate lands of the people are released before the end of this year is a welcome move.
There were instances when demonstrations were held in various places in the North demanding the release of lands from the possession of the Armed Forces, the people who were staging the demonstrations were intimidated by henchmen of the previous regime.
The TNA in its Presidential, Parliamentary and in the Provincial Council election manifestos had mentioned the release of lands in the North and East as one of the key demands along with other demands such as the general amnesty for Tamil prisoners detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
So, as the first term of the Northern Provincial Council is nearing completion in a couple of weeks this month, President Sirisena has ensured that these lands would be released to legitimate owners in the North and East before the end of this year.
The Presidential Task Force meeting on North and East development was held for the third time on last Wednesday and the notable absentee at the meeting was Northern Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran.
The first term of the Northern Provincial Council has been criticized by those who expected the Council to focus more on developing the post-war Northern Province.
However, the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) led by Chief Minister proved itself a `lame duck’ with hardly anything done constructive to the people in the Northern Province.
The NPC’s first term is coming to an end on 25 October with the legal battle between NPC Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran and his former Minister B. Deniswaran.
From the time Wigneswaran became the NPC Chief Minister he was up in arms saying that he was not vested with the power he deserved under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
Chief Minister Wigneswaran has requested the Central Government to provide him with a limousine worth sixty thousand US Dollars in the backdrop of NPC’s period nearing completion at the end of this month. Minister Samarasinghe confirming the request made by the Northern Chief Minister for an expensive limousine has also stated that as the NPC period was coming to an end later this month the Chief Minister’s request for a new limousine was meaningless.
The first Chief Minister of the merged North and East Provinces Annamalai Varatharajah Perumal who rides in his motorbike in Jaffna has lambasted the functions of the NPC’s first term as total mockery.
Varatharajah Perumal has stated that Chief Minister Wigneswaran instead of grumbling of not possessing adequate powers, being a legal luminary he could have taken legal action demanding the powers he was vested with under the 13th Amendment.
“Instead of showing his strength legally to win his powers which he deserves under the 13th Amendment through the right channels even while gaining India’s support which was instrumental in bringing out the 13th Amendment , it is a pity to see the Chief Minister entangled in a legal tussle against his own councillors in the NPC,” Perumal said.
Therefore, as the NPC‘s first term is nearing completion on 25 October, the Tamil political scene is likely to reach a fragmented state further.
Jaffna District TNA Parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran has openly stated recently that Chief Minister Wigneswaran would not be fielded as Chief Ministerial candidate for NPC next time.
Whereas Wigneswaran has said that he would make a new alliance and contest at the next NPC election.
With the dissolving of the NPC later this month, the TNA’s integrity is expected to be in disarray with new changes to take place in the Tamil political scene.
Chief Minister Wigneswaran has even stated that unless an alternative leadership was created in the TNA he would not be part of the alliance.
The Chief Minister has also stated that following the end of the NPC later this month he would focus on the functions of the Tamil People’s Council (TPC) which was established two years ago to play a supportive role to the NPC.
Chief Minister Wigneswaran’s first entry into politics with the NPC election had been a `cake walk’. However, his second attempt to enter the NPC is expected to be a tussle with the TNA which had brought him to the limelight in politics.