Prawit asks MPs to cool it
Urges end to PPRP factional fights
Deputy Prime Minister and Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) leader Prawit Wongsuwon has stressed that factions and factionalism among party MPs must end as he has his sights set on securing at least 150 House seats at the next general election.
Gen Prawit chaired a meeting of party MPs at parliament on Wednesday, attended by key party heavyweights.
They included Industry Minister and deputy party leader Suriya Jungrungreangkij, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin, Deputy Finance Minister and party director Santi Promphat, and chief government whip Wirach Ratanasate.
Also present were party secretary-general Capt Thamanat Prompow and Narumon Pinyosinwat, the party's treasurer.
The meeting was held after a report of internal rifts and a power shift within the party in the wake of Capt Thamanat and Ms Narumon being sacked by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha from the cabinet. Capt Thamanat was 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 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.
On Tuesday, Gen Prawit also asked party heavyweights to rally behind Gen Prayut.
Before Wednesdy's meeting began, Gen Prawit introduced Gen Vit Thephasdin Na Ayutthaya, who was appointed chairman of the party's strategic committee to party MPs, a PPRP source said.
Then, Mr Somsak, who was previously tipped for the post of strategic committee chairman, told the meeting that he was ready to work with Gen Vit. He denied being upset that he was not entrusted with the role, the source said.
The meeting then discussed whether to find a new party secretary-general to replace Capt Thamanat, the source said.
According to the source, Gen Prawit told the meeting that Capt Thamanat has contributed much to the party and he should stay on.
Gen Prawit then asked Capt Thamanat if he wanted to stay on with the party, the source said.
In reply, Capt Thamanat said he will not leave the party if Gen Prawit allows him to carry on, the source said.
"If the boss allows me, I will not leave and set up a new party. Let Palang Pracharath be my last home," the source quoted Capt Thamanat as saying.
With Capt Thamanat and Ms Narumon present at the meeting, this shows that they still maintain close ties with Gen Prawit, the source said.
During the meeting, Gen Prawit stressed the need for party MPs to end factionalism and intra-party conflicts among themselves and work together to foster unity and strengthen the party.
"From now on, there will be only one group under the party's leader ... I will take sole responsibility," the source quoted Gen Prawit as saying.
The source added that Gen Prawit has pledged to see to it that the party will win at least 150 House seats at the next election under the two-ballot voting system after parliament recently approved the charter amendment bill seeking to bring back the two-ballot system.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Somsak said that Gen Prawit instructed party MPs to close ranks and work as a team for the sake of party unity.
He also brushed aside a report about a restructuring of the party's executive committee and congratulated Gen Vit on his new post.
Mr Wirach said Gen Prawit told the meeting that the party's executive committee has yet to be restructured. Gen Prawit also insisted he will not step down as party leader, and told party MPs to visit their constituents regularly.
"Gen Prawit also emphasised that from now on the party must not have any factions. There is only Prawit's faction.
"Capt Thamanat, meanwhile, will also stay on as party secretary-general," Mr Wirach said.
Some MPs were surprised that Capt Thamanat and Ms Narumon retained their party posts, said a source.
Meanwhile, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Clubhouse on Wednesdy denied an allegation that he paid 2 billion baht to Capt Thamanat to topple Gen Prayut. "There was no such deal," Thaksin said.