Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat has dismissed rumours he has been shortlisted to take over as Pheu Thai Party leader.
ACM Sukumpol yesterday called the rumours unfounded, saying he had not even been approached to take on the job.
He also said he lacks the necessary experience and that there are more suitable candidates who could take on the post.
The new Pheu Thai leader will be selected by the party's executive committee, he said.
Noppadon Pattama, legal adviser to ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, said Pheu Thai executives will meet on Monday to decide who will become acting party leader following Yongyuth Wichaidit's departure from the top post.
Mr Yongyuth resigned last week as deputy prime minister and interior minister and more recently as MP and Pheu Thai leader in the wake of the Alpine land case.
Mr Noppadon said a permanent party leader is expected to be appointed within the next two months.
He said the new leader could be a member of the so-called House No.111 group, a reference to the 111 former Thai Rak Thai Party executives who completed serving their political ban in May. Many of them are looking to become politically active again.
If Mr Yongyuth clears himself regarding the land case, he will be able to seek political office again, said Mr Noppadon, who is also a member of Pheu Thai's strategy committee. He denied Thaksin will pick the new leader as the decision rests with the party's MPs.
The main opposition Democrat Party has sought a ruling by the Constitution Court on Mr Yongyuth's status.
The controversy surrounding him erupted after the National Anti-Corruption Commission found Mr Yongyuth guilty of malfeasance over his handling of the Alpine land case in 2002.
While serving as deputy permanent secretary for the interior and acting permanent secretary, he approved the sale of monastic land to the Alpine Real Estate and Alpine Golf and Sports Club.
The Interior Ministry's civil service committee decided to expel him, with the expulsion order taking effect retroactively from Sept 30, 2002.
But it also claimed the expulsion was retroactively overruled by the 2007 Exoneration Act.
Now that Mr Yongyuth has gone, Suwat Liptapanlop, a key Chart Pattana Party figure, says the time is now right for the prime minister to reshuffle the cabinet, to change the game and the players.
After one year in office, it is time for a reshuffle, just like a football team changes some players and improves its game after several matches, he said.
Mr Suwat said the decision on when and whether to make a minor or major reshuffle rests with the team's captain - Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Traditionally, all coalition partners would be informed about any change in the cabinet lineup in advance, he said in response to media reports that Pheu Thai may take back the industry portfolio from Chart Pattana.
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Writer: Wassana Nanuam and Patsara Jikkham