The sacked junior minister of Tourism and Christian Affairs Arundika Fernando joined former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s faction Tuesday, a week after he was told by the government that he will not be reinstated.
Fernando, who was called a rock star by his parliamentary colleagues after he rocked the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) faction of President Maithripala Sirisena, made a special statement before crossing the floor of the House.
“From today, I will work to ensure the collapse of this government,” he said just before taking a seat on the opposition benches.
Last week, Fernando met with President Sirisena Wednesday seeking his ministerial job back, but was told no way and that there may be more sackings of SLFP ministers in the cabinet.
Fernando’s Puttalam district SLFP organisation position was immediately taken over by another SLFP deputy minister Nimal Lanza who had earlier been in a list of possible defectors to the Joint Opposition.
Fernando was sacked last week after he reportedly demanded millions of rupees to continue supporting the president. An SLFP source said the President was aware that Fernando had cut a lucrative financial deal with a Rajapaksa loyalist to join their side.
Government spokesman Rajith Senaratne told reporters at the post-cabinet press conference in Colombo that the President made it clear to Fernando that he will not pay any ransom money to keep anyone in the government.
“I don’t have the kind of money you are asking, but even if I had, I won’t give you,” Senaratne quoted the President as saying.