The next cabinet reshuffle is unlikely to involve a major shakeup in the ruling Pheu Thai Party despite the wishes of ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra.
The former premier has apparently given in to the urging of his two sisters _ Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Yaowapa Wongsawat _ to put off a major cabinet rejig for now and focus instead on the government's massive infrastructure investment scheme.
The only change pending to the cabinet will involve the Tourism and Sports Ministry, Ms Yingluck said yesterday. The post has been left vacant since the death of Chumpol Silpa-archa, the former leader of the Chartthaipattana Party, on Jan 21.
A Pheu Thai source said Thaksin originally wanted to proceed with a reshuffle to return political favours to some factions in the party. But he had a change of heart after Ms Yaowapa and some core party members visited him in Dubai.
Thaksin addressed a Pheu Thai meeting via Skype on Tuesday, telling participants the prime minister has no plans to make changes to the Pheu Thai line-up. He also instructed Pheu Thai MPs to explain to their constituents the need to borrow two trillion baht for transport infrastructure projects.
Following Thaksin's message a red shirt-affiliated group and other factions who had been lobbying for a shakeup are reported to have halted their activities.
Among those said to be jockeying for a cabinet seat is a faction headed by Yongyuth Tiyapairat, one of 109 politicians who will complete a five-year political ban for electoral fraud in December.
Mr Yongyuth has reportedly lobbied Thaksin to replace Natural Resources and Environment Minister Preecha Rengsomboonsuk with Wisarn Techathirawat.
Red shirts are also still keen on the appointment of their leader Jatuporn Prompan as a cabinet minister.
Ms Yaowapa has joined forces with Ms Yingluck in negotiating the reshuffle delay with Thaksin.
Both sisters have pointed out to Thaksin that the 2.2-trillion-baht infrastructure investment plan would become a tool to strengthen the party's political base. While this plays out the party should refrain from rocking the boat with a cabinet reshuffle, they say.
A party source said key senior figures within the party, such as Ms Yaowapa and Ms Yingluck, are given a quota of cabinet seats they can disburse among their supporters.
The source said the two sisters' political clout within Pheu Thai has grown stronger than that of other factions, including the one controlled by Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra, Thaksin's ex-wife. Cabinet members from Ms Yaowapa's wing include Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan and Natural Resources and Environment Minister Preecha, the source said.
Ms Yingluck's quota includes Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, Transport Minister Chadchat Sittipunt and Public Health Minister Pradit Sintawanarong.
Nakharin Mektrairat, a political activist at Thammasat University, said the infrastructure investments will help the ruling party firm up its control and woo votes.