puluwang visandaganna. Meyath ekka mata vedak nehe (Sir, when peopleare present, he is trying to corner me. With you Sir, we can discussanything and resolve it. I have nothing to do with him.”Rajapaksa pacified Hakeem. He said, “Rishad ithing deshapalana kathakeranawa. Mang oyawa kong keruwe nehe ney. Baya venna epa (Rishad istalking politics. I have not cornered you, have I. Do not fear).”An enraged Hakeem said he would meet the President later and made hisexit. Among the ministers present were Maithripala Sirisena (also GeneralSecretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party), Susil Premajayantha, (alsoGeneral Secretary of the UPFA) and Nimal Siripala de Silva (also Leader of the House). This is not the first time Bathiuddin has expressed his outrage in public.During talks to resolve issues arising out of the attack on a mosque inGrandpass, he urged Police Chief N.K. Illangakoon to resign since he hadnot been able to take measures to prevent it. Illangakoon was to point outpolitely that he had been appointed by the President and would hence notheed the Minister’s gratuitous advice to quit office. Later, Bathiuddin wasgiven a severe reprimand by President Rajapaksa over the issue. On theother hand, the SLMC decision to go it alone at the PC polls in Septemberhas irked the UPFA leadership considerably. That it should come amidstaccusations at the UPFA Government over attacks on Muslims, an issuewidely publicised in some Islamic states, has further aggravated thesituation. Though some in the high command of the SLMC feel they shouldquit the UPFA, Hakeem is strongly of the view that such a move would becounter-productive. He has argued that it would only sever the link andleverage the SLMC had to raise issues and resolve them.In view of the swearing-in of northern provincial council members of theUPFA on Thursday morning, the weekly meeting of ministers was scheduledfor the same morning at the Presidential Secretariat. Ahead of that sessionat the Presidential Secretariat, President Rajapaksa swore in NorthernProvince Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran for a string of ministerialportfolios he has chosen to hold. They are: Finance and Planning, Law andOrder, Lands, Road Development, Electricity, Housing and Construction,Water Supply, Cooperative Development, Social Services and Rehabilitation,Women’s Affairs, Industries and Enterprise Promotion, Tourism, LocalGovernment and Provincial Administration, Food Supply and Distribution.Accompanying Chief Minister Wigneswaran for the event was TNAparliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran.