PPRP says it will easily claim North
Candidates poached from Pheu Thai Party
The pro-regime Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) is confident it will win two thirds of 62 constituencies in the North, the stronghold of the Pheu Thai Party, in the upcoming election.
Cap Thammanat Prompao, member of the PPRP's panel for the election strategy in the North, said his party would prevail in 38 constituencies in 17 northern provinces.
"The party is in the midst of fighting to gain more seats. This is a tough task we are going to pursue," said Cap Thammanat.
According to him, his party has been prepared for the poll for a long time with experienced candidates.
In nine constituencies of Chiang Mai, people from various professional backgrounds applied to be candidates under the PPRP.
"Thanks to our various choices of candidates, I am confident that we will win many constituencies," he added.
Cap Thammanat said many applicants were also from the Pheu Thai Party and have helped the PPRP learn the poll strategies and approach of their rivals.
He said candidates from other parties tend to take advantage of their camps' popularity, unlike the PPRP candidates who have always stayed in touch with the people.
Cap Thammanat was speaking in Chiang Mai where he launched an event to introduce nine contesting candidates for the poll in the northern province. More than 20,000 party members attended the event.
He said that the PPRP would move Thailand forward after more than 10 years of political conflicts. "We are the new way," he declared from the stage.
He also praised various military government initiatives such as state welfare cards for the poor, the allowance for village health volunteers and new minimum pension rates for retired officers.
Most of the parties' nine candidates for the region are established local politicians and former MPs from other parties.
Among them are Boonlert Buranupakorn, head of Chiang Mai provincial administration organisation; Pornchai Atthapreeyangkoon and Santi Tansuhat, former Chiang Mai MPs for the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai; Kingkan Na Chiang Mai, former Chiang Mai MP for the New Aspiration Party; and Norapol Tantimontri, former Chiang Mai MP for the Puea Pandin Party.
The pro-regime Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) appeared to be in full campaign mode with major gatherings on Sunday in five provinces.
The five events, which took place simultaneously and were headed by key figures, were broadcast live on Facebook and other social media platforms.
The gatherings took place in Chiang Mai, Kamphaeng Phet, Phitsanulok, Phetchabun and Nakhon Sawan.
In Phitsanulok, the PPRP on Sunday presented candidates for the five constituencies of Phitsanulok and another three for Sukhothai.
About 7,000 people took part in the campaign event, which was held at an agricultural marketing co-operative in Muang district.
The attendants carried placards supporting Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to return as the premier after the poll, tentatively scheduled for Feb 24.
Speaking on the stage, Somsak Thepsuthin, who is in charge of the party's election campaign committee, expressed his support for Gen Prayut.
"When the country is run by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, we are in peace," Mr Somsak said.
Meanwhile, Pheu Thai bigwig Chalerm Ubumrung poured scorn on Cap Thammanat, who he said falls short in political experience.
"I do not give weight to those people who have no experience in politics," Mr Chalerm, who leads Pheu Thai's election campaign, told the Bangkok Post. He said Cap Thammanat played a role only in mobilising people to join electioneering stages.
According to the political firebrand, it will be difficult for the PPRP to take away MP seats earlier occupied by Pheu Thai, particularly in the North and Northeast.
"The PPRP will not be able to compete with the Democrat Party in the South or in Bangkok either," he said.
"No matter how hard they [PPRP] have tried to suck former MPs and ex-provincial councillors into their fold, they will still be unable to grab constituency seats in the major regions, which are dominated by other parties with a strong popular base," Mr Chalerm said.
A PPRP source told the Bangkok Post that the party has been working in the North and Northeast for seven months in a bid to compete with Pheu Thai.
The party now has the upper hand after the government ushered in policies that specifically benefit the poor in the region, which will make it easier to canvass for support, said the source.
The Bhumjaithai Party on Sunday also unveiled candidates to run in all 14 constituencies in Nakhon Ratchasima.
Anutin Charnvirakul, the party leader, said all of the candidates are former MPs and politicians well-known locally.