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Monday, May 27, 2024

Number of Opposition MPs ready to join Government ranks – Minister Johnston Fernando

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Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando yesterday declined to divulge the names of Opposition MPs who were planning to leave their ranks but confirmed that there would be change in party compositions in Parliament.

Responding to journalists’ queries during a ceremony held at Kandy to launch development work on the stretch of road from Kandy-Heerassagala junction to Kandy Railway Station into a four-lane road, the minister said: “I do not give away names. There are many from the Opposition ranks who contacted us and expressed their willingness to join forces with the Government. We have trump cards and aces. If others play their trump cards we too are ready to play our trumps. We have aces high in trumps and many other trump cards.”

Asked to give an exact number of Opposition MPs talking with the Government to switch their alliances, the Minister said: “I would not say the figures. Sajith Premadasa is trying to save his Opposition Leader post. Anura Kumara Dissanayake is trying to save his party leadership. We are not going to reveal our strategies. You can see when the time comes. With what they tell us in the Parliament Lobby, we know their frustration. They are convinced that the incumbent Opposition could never defeat the Government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.”

Asked to comment on the Government’s talks with minor and minority party leaders, the Minister said that many such leaders are already working with the Government while sitting in the Opposition. Asked whether the Opposition MPs are to cross over at the Budget debate, the Minister said that he would not tell the exact time. “If we give the time, the Opposition would prepare a plan to disrupt that. All you have to do is wait and see. The procession will come,” Minister Fernando said.

A 2.1 km road stretch from Kandy-Heerassagala junction to the Kandy Railway Station would be upgraded into a four-lane road at a cost of Rs 1290.5 million. State Minister of Gem and Jewelry Related Industries, Lohan Ratwatte and State Minister of State Ministry of Vehicle Regulation, Bus Transport Services and Train Compartments and Motor Car Industry, Dilum Amunugama and Highways Ministry officials including its Secretary R.W.R. Pemasiri were present.

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