Party touts kingmaker role
Bhumjaithai denies rifts over dope, loans
Bhumjaithai aims to become the core party in the formation of a government after the next election, its leader Anutin Charnvirakul said, signalling a willingness to work with other parties with compatible ideas.
Mr Anutin, who serves as deputy prime minister and public health minister, said the party is now ready for the election, with its primary goal being to lead the next political bloc to emerge after the poll.
"We want to lead a political bloc and that's our objective, but we will have to wait and see how much support [House seats] we need," he said.
"If we emerge as a major party leading a political bloc and form a government, we can do more to push for our policies," he said. "But if we end up in the opposition, our scrutiny will be much more intense."
Asked about Bhumjaithai's perceived rifts with its government coalition partners and the possibility of them returning as allies after the election, Mr Anutin said each party has its own stance on matters and which political direction to pursue.
"For example, Bhumjaithai has supported a proposal for interest-free loans for borrowers under the Student Loan Fund, while the Democrat Party has opposed it," he said. "Nobody saw it as a conflict. When it comes to the cannabis bill, some thought we were quarrelling. In fact, each of us has our own stance.
"Bhumjaithai will vote for any legislation that serves the people's best interest," he said.
Previously, Mr Anutin denied there was a conflict with the Democrat Party following its decision to withdraw support for the new cannabis and hemp bill.
The bill was withdrawn on Sept 14 pending a revision of some content that lawmakers considered overly "loose" and potentially dangerous to young people. The House of Representatives voted 198:136 with 12 abstentions to withdraw the bill to make improvements despite the Bhumjaithai's objections.
Regarding the party's next prime ministerial candidate, Mr Anutin said party regulations stipulate only the party leader can be nominated.
Asked which party Bhumjaithai would ally itself with after the poll, he said that would have to wait until after the election results; then the party would analyse which parties have compatible policies. "But if their conditions are not acceptable, even if they become the government, we are ready to be the opposition," he said.
Meanwhile, the Democrat Party introduced Watanya "Madam Dear" Bunnag, 37, as a party member after she resigned from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party. Democrat leader Jurin Laksanawisit said she will run as a candidate for a party-list seat in the next election.
She was a government whip and a mainstay MP before giving up her seat and quitting the party on Aug 16.