The Bhumjaithai Party on Saturday introduced prospective election candidates in all 33 Bangkok constituencies in hopes of planting its flag in the capital, amid yet another protest by whistleblower Chuvit Kamolvisit.
Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul, also a deputy prime minister and public health minister, was joined at the kick-off event by Bangkok election director Buddhipongse Punnakanta.
Mr Buddhipongse, a former list-MP from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, said Bhumjaithai was determined to solve the problems plaguing Bangkok, which required a new approach.
The party has divided the capital into four zones — northern Bangkok, Thon Buri side, eastern Bangkok and inner Bangkok — as a single set of policies could not be applied to the entire capital, he said.
“We cannot deny that Bangkok is Thailand, the gathering place for people from all over the country who come here with hopes and come to study. Bhumjaithai is ready to serve people,” said Mr Buddhipongse.
“Party executives have studied and analysed (problems) and know exactly what the real problems facing Bangkok people are. We are more ready than other political parties.
“Today, if we think the same and do the same things, the outcome will be the same. We must see through how to develop Bangkok. Bhumjaithai is the first and only party to introduce policies based on the nature of problems in four zones.”
Bhumjaithai’s strength traditionally has been mainly in the lower Northeast and some Central Plains provinces outside Bangkok. In the 2019 election, it was unable to capture any of the 30 seats in the capital, where Pheu Thai, Palang Pracharath and Move Forward divided the spoils.
Mr Anutin said the party had earlier proposed itself to serve Bangkok people, but was not as ready as it is now. Having worked in the coalition government for four years, it wants to ask for an opportunity for Bangkok constituents to choose party candidates to work for them.
“We have never thought for even a second that since Bangkok constituents did not vote for us, we would not place as much emphasis in Bangkok,” he said. “On the contrary, we give it more importance because Bangkok is everything for the country. As the party understands this issue, it will devote every effort to things that will benefit Bangkok.”
He gave his assurance that all 33 party candidates had been screened to ensure they would work for people.
“We are ready to form a government and continue to be a core party,” said Mr Anutin.
After delivering his speech, Mr Anutin distributed flags bearing the party’s logo and name to all potential candidates to display prominently as a reminder to voters. The group then set off in a caravan of vehicles that travelled to all corners of the capital.
Mr Anutin appeared unperturbed by whistleblower Chuvit Kamolvisit’s ongoing war against his party. He said he did not think the former massage parlour tycoon’s crusade against the party’s cannabis policy would affect its votes in Bangkok.
Mr Chuvit on Saturday showed up at an area beneath the Kasetsart University BTS station, about 600 metres away from the Bhumjaithai headquarters.
As the party’s campaign vehicles arrived at the intersection, he walked towards them waving a protest placard. He followed that with a press conference where he once more criticised the party’s liberalisation of cannabis and the alleged share concealment by Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob.
Bhumjaithai’s 400 potential election candidates have been asked to file defamation complaints against Mr Chuvit, who has vowed to “destroy” the party. He has denied that he is working on behalf of anyone but himself.
Whistleblower Chuvit Kamolvisit stages a protest near Bhumjaithai headquarters in Bangkok on Saturday as the party introduced its candidates for the capital. (Photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya)