The opposition Democrat Party expects a close contest in the March 3 election for Bangkok governor and has mobilised MPs to help its candidate.
Although 25 candidates have registered to compete for the top seat at City Hall, the contest is widely seen as a two-horse race between former governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra of the Democrat Party and Pol Gen Pongsapat Pongcharoen of the Pheu Thai Party.
Pheu Thai views itself as an underdog and is calling up all available resources against the Democrats.
Pheu Thai secretary-general Phumtham Vejjayachai said he believes Pheu Thai is about 170,000 votes behind the Democrats.
Pheu Thai divides Bangkok into three areas and if it is able to boost support by 70,000 votes in each area, victory is almost assured, he said.
Pheu Thai is calling not only on its 10 Bangkok MPs, Bangkok councillors and Bangkok district councillors but also veteran politicians including those who served under the disbanded Thai Rak Thai and People's Power parties.
They include Yaowapa Wongsawat, Jaturon Chaisaeng, Varathep Rattanakorn, Chusak Sirinil, Nattawut Saikuar and Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan.
Mr Phumtham is directing the campaign and has set up six working groups.
They comprise working groups for public relations, academic support, campaigning, people's groups, campaign direction, and special affairs.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra often attends Pheu Thai's Bangkok election meetings and asks local MPs and councillors about voters' demands, so the party can tailor its campaigns to serve local needs.
Pheu Thai is intensifying its campaigns in zones where its popularity is close to that of the Democrats.
Pol Gen Pongsapat, a former deputy national police chief and ex-secretary-general of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, plans five big speeches during his campaign.
Pheu Thai MP for Bangkok Karun Hosakul said Pheu Thai enjoys strong support in Bangkok's suburbs, while the Democrats enjoy solid support in the inner districts. Both parties are polling close on the Thon Buri side of Bangkok.
Candidates were emphasising populist policies and Pheu Thai was second to none in that area.
Meanwhile, a Democrat source said the contest would be close, unlike the Democrats' comfortable victory in the past three Bangkok governor elections.
In the 2004, 2008, and 2009 Bangkok governor polls, the Democrats' cadidates won in most of Bangkok's 50 districts. They lost in only eight districts, including Don Muang, Sai Mai, Bang Khen and Dusit (see graphic, page 1).
Democrat MPs for 23 Bangkok constituencies and candidates who lost in the last general election in 10 other Bangkok constituencies are campaigning on behalf of the party's candidate, together with more than 200 Bangkok councillors and Bangkok district councillors of the party.
The Democrat Party enjoys support in inner-city districts such as Pomprap Sattruphai, Dusit, Phra Nakhon, Pathumwan, Sathon, Yannawa, Phaya Thai and Ratchathewi, as well as in more suburban Bang Na, Suan Luang, Prawet and Phra Khanong.
The party says it is also confident in many districts on the Thon Buri side such as Khlong San, Bangkok Noi, Bangkok Yai, Bang Khunthian, Bang Bon and Bang Kae.
But in districts which are the political strongholds of Pheu Thai's deputy leader Chalerm Yubamrung, winning over voters will be hard work.
The Democrats are trying to reclaim Bung Kum, Kannayao, Klong Sam Wa and Laksi districts.
Competition will also be fierce in the eastern districts of Huai Khwang, Din Daeng, Wang Thonglang and Bang Kapi.
The Democrats admit they probably cannot win in Sai Mai, Don Muang, Lat Krabang and Min Buri districts but will still try to gain more votes there.
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Writer: Aekarach Sattaburuth & Manop Thip-osod