Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung will step in to clear the air with the red-shirt United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) over the cabinet reshuffle row in which one of its leading lights missed out on a seat. Still, he said he was not confident the red shirts would listen.
"I'm not sure if they will respect me or not," Mr Chalerm said, adding he was not in a position to tell if Jatuporn Prompan, a red shirt co-leader who was excluded from the new cabinet lineup, would be part of any future cabinet reshuffle.
Several key red-shirt members have voiced disappointment that Mr Jatuporn was overlooked for a ministerial post in the latest reshuffle.
Some Pheu Thai MPs also expressed disappointment over the reshuffle.
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Pheu Thai MP for Samut Prakan Worachai Hema, a red-shirt co-leader, previously said Mr Jatuporn had been blocked from a ministerial post by members of the ruling party.
He said Mr Jatuporn was denied a cabinet seat despite having made great contributions to the party. Others who had contributed little had been given ministerial posts, and this could lead to the government losing its support base, he added.
Mr Worachai said Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra should watch out for a close aide whose first initial is "S". He said the aide would do the party more harm than good.
However, Mr Chalerm said the cabinet reshuffle would not cause divisions within the party and said there were no factions inside the ruling party.
Mr Chalerm said he believed party members could talk through their differences and that the situation would not degenerate into a negative one.
He dismissed a report that Ms Yingluck's close aide whose first initial is "S" had tried to block Mr Jatuporn from getting a ministerial post.
Pheu Thai Party director Phumtham Wechayachai said he believed nobody in the ruling party wanted to keep the red shirts out of the cabinet.
With a limited number of cabinet posts, it was normal that some people would be disappointed, as no one could have everything they wanted, Mr Phumtham said.
He added that after a party general assembly today, Pheu Thai would probably undergo major changes to its structure, with respected academics and some members of the House No.111 _ former executives of the dissolved Thai Rak Thai _ approached to sit on several of the party's committees.
Pheu Thai list-MP Cherdchai Tantisirin, another red-shirt leader, said the fact that Mr Jatuporn was kept out of the cabinet could lead to a misunderstanding between the red shirts and the government.
He said Mr Jatuporn has what it takes to be a cabinet minister but someone in the party did not want him to get a ministerial post.
Mr Cherdchai also said that several Pheu Thai MPs in the Northeast were baffled that Yutthapong Charassathien, a Pheu Thai MP for Maha Sarakham, has been appointed deputy agriculture minister despite the fact that he had only recently moved across from the Democrat Party.
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- Writer: Aekarach Sattaburuth