Capt Thamanat Prompow, the former Setthakij Thai secretary-general, is playing a game of "high risk, high return", says former politician and media firebrand Chuwit Kamolvisit.
The former leader of the Rak Prathet Thai Party believes Capt Thamanat is looking to win something of high value, rather than regain his cabinet post. Capt Thamanat, former deputy agriculture minister, was accused of plotting to topple Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in last year's no-confidence debate.
He was sacked from the cabinet shortly after and a few months later expelled along with some 20 MPs from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) for demanding changes to the party's structure. Capt Thamanat's faction joined the Setthakij Thai Party led by Gen Wit Devahastin na Ayudhya. He and 14 executives resigned en masse recently and forced Gen Wit to step down.
"Gen Wit is known as compromising and he was asked to go easy on Gen Prayut. Capt Thamanat might not see eye to eye with him, so the mass resignation was to make way for him to lead the party," he said.
Mr Chuwit said the coalition government will have to navigate its way through three issues to complete its term: the budget bill debate, the forthcoming censure debate and the prime minister's eight-year term limit. He reckoned that Capt Thamanat's game plan is to continue challenging the coalition government's stability with backing from several micro parties. Capt Thamanat himself claims to have 40 MPs, from his party and those under the "Group of 16" drawn from micro-parties and the PPRP.
Mr Chuwit said that with the new election system in place, Capt Thamanat's party has a slim chance of winning House seats if 100 is used in the calculation of party-list seats compared with the use of 500. He added that Capt Thamanat is likely to prefer the use of 100 in the calculation of party-list seats. The number 100 comes from the total party-list MPs while 500 refers to all the constituency and party-list MPs.
Mr Chuwit said small political parties are Capt Thamanat's leverage in bargaining and it is thought he will use them to pressure the government to dissolve the House after the government clears all three hurdles. According to Mr Chuwit, Gen Prayut is likely to clear the obstacles.
Looking ahead to the next election, he said Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul will be a deciding factor and it is still not time for Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the youngest daughter of fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, to vie for the premiership. "Ms Paetongtarn was introduced to just help draw votes. Thaksin is unlikely to push her due to her [in]experience and age," he said.