UNP Colombo North organiser and Western Provincial Council member Duminda Silva joined the Government yesterday, pledging support to President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Silva obtained the highest number of preferential votes among UNP candidates at the 1994 Provincial Council election.
He is also a prominent social worker and is the founder of the Duminda Silva Foundation which has a membership of 275,000.
Addressing the media, Silva said his decision was based on strengthening the hands of President Rajapaksa to steer the country towards peace and prosperity and not political mileage.
He added he was impressed with the President`s vision to take the country forward. The lack of such foresight within the UNP had prompted his decision. He would totally sever ties with the UNP and seek membership from the SLFP.
`My sole intention is to help the poor and the downtrodden,` Silva said. He expressed satisfaction that the Budget 2008 had enunciated many beneficial programmes for the masses` welfare as well as the country`s development. He praised its focus on developing local industries and the rural economy.
Silva said the weak leadership has ruined the UNP. The leadership could not identify persons who could properly steer the party. He alleged that certain UNP politicians in the Kotte area were also responsible for this state of affairs.
`I will not change my political affiliation hereafter. I will be committed to the SLFP.`
He said terrorism would be defeated soon as a result of the Government`s anti-terrorism drive.
`The Government has not forgotten development. Several large-scale development projects are already underway in addition to the Eastern resurgence programme.`
Silva recalled that this very first meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa created a deep impression in him that the President was a statesman dedicated to achieve peace and prosperity.
He refuted allegations that his joining the Government was linked to the cancellation of licence of a private radio station and a lawsuit against him.