Pheu Thai deploys big gun trio
Panthongtae to remind voters of 'Thaksin DNA'
Pheu Thai has chosen party bigwig Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, former deputy prime minister Chalerm Ubumrung, and Panthongtae Shinawatra, the son of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, to spearhead its election campaign, according to a party source.
The trio were picked as many of the party's key figures have defected to other camps, the source noted.
Mr Panthongtae's move to apply to become a party member on Saturday was seen as a significant bid to embolden former MPs who have decided to stick with the party.
It is also a tacit way of making it clear that Thaksin has not left the party, the source noted.
Thaksin's son will make appearances at the party's roadshow stages but he is not expected to talk much.
"His presence alone will reassure people that Thaksin's DNA remains within the party," the source added.
Khunying Sudarat, chairwoman of the party's election strategy committee, recently topped a list of favourites for next prime minister, according to a Nida Poll survey on the weekend.
She was trailed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Gen Prayut downplayed the latest opinion poll in which he came second behind Khunying Sudarat.
He said the poll surveyed only a few thousand people and did not represent the voice of the nation.
"Sometimes, there is more to opinion polls than meets the eye," Gen Prayut said.
According to Nida Poll, the Pheu Thai Party are also favourites to win a general election tentatively slated for Feb 24.
Gen Prayut said that the "same tricks" were being used by certain politicians to confuse people about the performance of his government.
However, he said he believed people have "learned a great deal" since the previous government was ousted in the May 2014 coup.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said he was curious about Nida Poll's methods.
"What's the point of having a popularity contest in politics?" Gen Prawit said.
Also, Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee, speaking in his capacity as deputy leader of the pro-regime Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), said there are two to three months to go before the election takes place and so it would be premature to draw any conclusion from a single poll about who will win or lose.
Meanwhile, Jade Donavanik, chair of the Faculty of Law College of Asian Scholars, has classified political parties into three groups, based on their strategies for contesting the general election.
The first consists of the Democrat, Bhumjaithai and Chartthaipattana parties, which he said are relying on former MPs who already have strong constituency bases.
The second group are Pheu Thai, Thai Raksa Chart and other allies linked with Thaksin.
Pheu Thai has split its camp and sent its members to form new parties to ensure the greatest possible share of the vote in as many constituencies as possible, he said.
The third is the pro-regime PPRP, which is counting on individuals to win constituencies, according to Mr Jade.
This is why the party has recruited so many former MPs with strong popular bases into their fold, the academic said.
According to Mr Jade, if the PPRP gains 126 seats in parliament, it would be likely to be able to form a government and see its prime minister pick take office, especially as it will have had a very strong influence over the selection of the Senate.
Monday was the last day politicians could apply for party membership in order to eligible to contest the election if it goes ahead on Feb 24.
At Pheu Thai, former deputy prime minister Sompong Amornvivat, earlier chosen as Pheu Thai-allied Pheu Tham leader, reapplied as a Pheu Thai member.
It is believed he will stand in Chiang Mai, replacing Dejnattawit Teriyapirom, son of ex-commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, who has defected to the PPRP.
For the Democrats, Aram Loveera, a former deputy transport minister in the government of Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and Pol Maj Gen Wichai Sangprapai, former deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, applied for membership.
Meanwhile, Jureeporn Sinthuprai, a core leader of the red-shirts in the East, said she had applied to become a PPRP member as she wants to end political conflicts.
- Earlier report: Thaksin's son to help lead Pheu Thai campaign