PPRP 'will bounce back behind Prayut'
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has insisted the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), which he leads, will not disintegrate but rather plans to expand in the next election and nominate Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha as its prime ministerial candidate once again.
Gen Prawit made it clear the PPRP is intact and its supporters have nothing to be concerned about.
He blamed the media for painting an inaccurately grim picture of the party's current state of affairs.
Despite a recent purge, the party believes it can win at least 150 seats in the next election, up from 116 in the previous poll in 2019, he said. The 2019 tally includes both constituency and party-list MPs.
The PPRP was viewed by many experts as being in a state of decline after it suffered defeats in three by-elections in Songkhla, Chumphon and, most recently, Bangkok's Constituency 9, last month.
It performed the worst in the Bangkok by-election, taking just 7,500 votes, a significant drop from the more than 30,000 it won in 2019.
The party expelled 21 "rebel" MPs including former secretary-general Capt Thamanat Prompow in recent weeks.
Despite having a run-in with political misfortune, however, the party will emerge stronger than ever this year, according to Gen Prawit, adding he has no intention of quitting.
"It's all good," the PPRP leader said.
He said the party will nominate Gen Prayut as its prime ministerial candidate but brushed aside a suggestion that the premier should become a party member to give it a political boost.
Gen Prayut was the PPRP's sole prime ministerial candidate in 2019.
Gen Prawit stressed Gen Prayut would not be abandoning the PPRP in favour of a new political party -- seen as a reference to Ruam Thai Sang Chart, which reportedly registered as a "back-up" party in case the PPRP runs into insurmountable problems.
"We [myself and Gen Prayut] have been together until now and we will always stick together," Gen Prawit said.
The PPRP was seen as facing the prospect of potential disbandment after Kunakorn Munnatheerai, a member of the opposition Move Forward Party (MFP), petitioned the political parties' registrar to invalidate it.