Oct 11, Colombo: Sri Lanka's first elected Northern Provincial Council got off to an inauspicious start with several members of the council boycotting the swear-in ceremony of the ministers held today.
Four councilors-elect of the major Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which claimed a landslide victory at the elections held last month to the Council, took oaths before the Chief Minister of the Northern Province C.V. Vigneswaran today at the Weerasingham Hall in Jaffna.
Former Director of Education in Kilinochchi, T. Kurukularajah of Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) was sworn-in as the Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs while Dr. P. Sathyalingam of ITAK took oaths as the Minister of Health.
P. Aingaranesan of EPRLF took oaths as the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Water Supply and Environment while lawyer P. Deniswaran of TELO is the Minister of Fisheries, Transport and Rural Development.
However, eight members of the Council from EPRLF, PLOTE, TULF and TELO member M. K. Sivajilingam who was slated to get a ministerial post boycotted the ceremony protesting that the ITAK has taken an authoritarian role within the Tamil alliance.
Only Aingaranesan from the EPRLF attended the swearing in ceremony while five other council members of EPRLF did not participate. The council members from PLOTE and the TULF also boycotted the event.
Local media reports said only 20 out of the 30 council members elected from TNA attended the ceremony.
The cracks between the ITAK and the other coalition partners in the Tamil Alliance began to appear when the TNA leader R. Sampanthan agreed for the Chief Minister-elect Vigneswaran to take oaths before the President in Colombo.
Leaders of the TNA coalition partners expressed their displeasure over the decision arrived at a meeting between the TNA leader and the President to have Vigneswaran taking oaths before the President. They expressed disapproval that Sampanthan along with MP M. A. Sumanthiran and the Chief Minister-elect had taken a unanimous decision without consulting the party leaders.
The rift among the constituent parties widened during the discussions to select the provincial ministers to the 38-member Council.
The appointment of ministers to the Council was delayed due to disagreements arose among the constituent parties of the TNA over the assignment of ministerial portfolios.
TNA Vanni District parliamentarian Selvam Adaikalanathan threatened to resign from the leadership of TELO since the TNA had decided to give Sivajilingam, who is from the Jaffna district, a portfolio despite his campaign for TNA in Vanni District.
However, Sivajilingam who did not get a ministerial portfolio boycotted today's event while Adaikalanathan attended.
After the TNA finalized the ministerial portfolios yesterday the TNA Spokesman MP Suresh Premachandran at a press conference in Jaffna accused the ITAK of assuming an authoritarian role within the alliance. He objected to the appointments saying that the ITAK assigned the folios without consulting other parties.
The TNA, an alliance of five Tamil parties - Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK), Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF), People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO) and Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), contests the polls under ITAK since it is not a registered political party.