Deputy Prime Minister and Palang Pracharath (PPRP) leader Prawit Wongsuwon is asking party heavyweights to rally behind Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, amid an apparent shift in internal dynamics within the ruling party, a source in the government said.
The source said PPRP secretary-general Thamanat Prompow, and party treasurer Narumon Pinyosinwat, are no longer invited to regular briefings with Gen Prawit at his office at Government House, which are held right before the weekly cabinet meeting. The snub, the source added, indicated a power shift within the party.
Capt Thamanat was recently sacked as deputy agriculture minister, along with Ms Narumon, who was a deputy labour minister. Their firing came after Capt Thamanat was accused of plotting to topple Gen Prayut from power, by persuading some MPs within the PPRP and smaller coalition parties to vote against the PM in the no-confidence debate earlier this month.
However, the plot failed with ministers who were targeted by the motion, including Gen Prayut, surviving the vote.
Despite the loss of their cabinet posts, Capt Thamanat and Ms Narumon, who is also said to be linked to the failed plot, have kept their posts within the party.
The pair have grown visibly estranged from Gen Prawit, who invited a new crop of senior PPRP executives to a briefing before the cabinet meeting in their place -- namely Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin, Deputy Finance Minister Santi Promphat and Deputy Transport Minister Atirat Ratanasate.
Mr Somsak co-founded the Sam Mitr ("Three Allies") faction in the PPRP, while Mr Santi also has a group of MPs under his wing. They could be on their way to eclipsing Capt Thamanat's influence in the ruling party, the source said.
The source said during a recent pre-cabinet session, Gen Prawit asked them to throw their support behind Gen Prayut and assist him in his work. The ministers obliged, saying they were ready to help.
Separately, Minister of Digital Economy and Society Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn dismissed speculation that Gen Prawit is considering resigning as PPRP leader.
He said a general election is still far away, as the organic law on elections has not been reworked to accommodate changes to the ballot method, constituencies and number of list MPs.
Mr Somsak, also a deputy PPRP leader, said there is no plan to reshuffle PPRP executives.