Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the youngest daughter of former prime minister Thaksin, says she is unperturbed by the return of key figures from the Sang Anakhot Thai Party (SATP) to the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), saying it was a mere political game.
“Those who are joining the ruling party are old comrades, not new faces, because they used to be with Palang Pracharath. But bringing in certain political groups clearly reflects that Gen Prawit has more charisma and is more accepted than Gen Prayut (Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha),” she said, referring to PPRP leader and deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon.
Ms Paetongtarn, chief adviser on public participation and innovation for Pheu Thai and a likely candidate for prime minister, made the comment before taking the campaign stage at Tha Bo municipality in Nong Khai on Saturday.
Former deputy prime minister Somkid Jatusripitak, the SATP chairman, party leader Uttama Savanayana and secretary-general Sontirat Sontijirawong this week decided to rejoin the ruling party, which they left in 2021 amid strategic and policy disagreements.
Santi Promphat, the PPRP secretary-general, said people who are capable and experienced are always welcome to help the party steer the country forward.
A PPRP source said Gen Prawit would officially introduce Mr Uttama and Mr Sontirat at the party’s headquarters at 3pm on Monday.
Ms Paetongtarn said the agreement was a matter for the two political parties and not something she would spend much time thinking about. Pheu Thai, she said, is concentrating on its pre-election campaigns and introducing major policies after the House of Representatives is dissolved.
Political observers believe that the political strategy is for Gen Prawit and Gen Prayut to be in different parties before joining hands after the election in an attempt to form a government with other conservative-leaning parties.
Pheu Thai is widely expected to win the most seats but unless it wins a landslide, it will need coalition partners plus support from the unelected Senate for its prime ministerial candidate. The senators, more than 100 of whom are soldiers, were all appointed by Gen Prayut.
Commenting on this speculation, Ms Paetongtarn said people would decide whether Pheu Thai would receive enough support in its fight or not. The party would let the public have the final say.
“I personally pay no attention whether the two men will later join hands or not,” she said. “I will do my duty the best I can because drawing up election campaigns to make people aware is a difficult and uphill task and everyone must help. I have not focused on other issues.
“I view that it’s too early to talk about the possibility that other political groups will come back to Pheu Thai. Now, I will go ahead with election campaigning to make sure Pheu Thai wins a landslide.”
Asked whether Pheu Thai would join with the Move Forward Party after the election, she said the two parties got along well because they both were on the democratic side. But joining hands was a matter for the future, she said.
On Friday, the PPRP named Gen Prawit, 77, as its candidate to be prime minister in the coming election.
Gen Prawit will run against incumbent Gen Prayut, 68, who earlier this month announced that he would lead the campaign for the recently created United Thai Nation Party, or Ruam Thai Sang Chart in Thai.
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