Bhumjaithai says huge welcome for PM not political

Bhumjaithai says huge welcome for PM not political

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha gestures to people in the packed Chang Arena, as he is welcomed to Buri Ram on Monday. (Government House photo)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha gestures to people in the packed Chang Arena, as he is welcomed to Buri Ram on Monday. (Government House photo)

Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul left people guessing about the party's plans, despite Buri Ram giving Prime Minister Prayut Cha-o-cha a red carpet welcome to the party's political stronghold on Monday.

About 30,000 people packed Chang Arena, home of Buriram United football club, for Gen Prayut and his cabinet members.

It was the largest gathering since the prime minister embarked on his upcountry trips, with a general election on the horizon and Gen Prayut still denying his visits are campaign-oriented. 

The welcome was engineered by Newin Chidchob, the former key figure of Bhumjaithai Party, who urged the audience to greet Gen Prayut by chanting that he should continue his fight.

"There are no political agendas today. It is all about people's agendas. No politics. Period," the former Buri Ram politician told reporters.

The hosts expect the government to dole out more than 20 billion baht for projects in the province by the time the cabinet meeting ends on Tuesday.

Gen Prayut's visit took place amid a major political reshuffle, as politicians have or intend to switch camps to support political parties backing an outsider prime minister after the first elections since the 2014 coup - polls now promised for February. 

But Mr Anutin echoed the same tune as Mr Newin, who is still believed to be a playmaker within Bhumjaithai although he insists he has no interest in politics anymore.

The Bhumjaithai leader said Buri Ram wanted to make the prime minister's trip memorable and there would be no political talk at the stadium.

The large crowd should not be interpreted as a show of support for Gen Prayut to continue in the premiership after the polls, he said.

He also denied unveiling Bhumjaithai's stance on whether the party would favour an outsider as leader of the next government.

Gen Prayut called for unity and joint efforts to move the country forward in his address to the audience. As he was leaving the stadium to see the adjoining Chang International Circuit,  spectators sent him off with a message encouraging him to carry on with his work.

The circuit will host the MotoGP Thailand 2018 motorcycle races in October.

Video by Patpon Sabpaitoon

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