Anucha tipped to leave PPRP
Sam Mitr figure holds Central support base
published : 2 Feb 2023 at 04:02
newspaper section: News
Defections continue to rattle the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) as a key figure of the Sam Mitr (Three Allies) faction is tipped to be the latest to move to the United Thai Nation (UTN) Party after the conclusion of parliament's final session at the end of this month.
All eyes are now on Prime Minister's Office Minister Anucha Nakasai, one of the group's key figures, who is expected to move to the UTN where Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is now a member.
If Mr Anucha, presently a PPRP MP for Chai Nat, breaks away from the ruling party, the party is expected to lose a key support base in the Central Plains region, observers said.
Mr Anucha said on Wednesday that he has been happy working with Gen Prayut for several years. "I admire him for the way he works, his determination and sincerity. I look up to him as a role model," Mr Anucha said.
Asked when he will join the UTN, Mr Anucha said things will become clearer after parliament's final session closes on Feb 28.
Asked whether he wants to leave the PPRP in order to avoid possible conflict with a group of politicians previously expelled from the PPRP and who are expected to rejoin the party, Mr Anucha said he has not been in conflict with any party members.
Capt Thamanat Prompow, a former PPRP secretary-general who was expelled from the party last year for plotting against Prime Minister Prayut, previously hinted that he was about to rejoin the PPRP, pending a nod from its chief, Gen Prawit Wongsuwon.
Mr Anucha said he will run again for a constituency seat in Chai Nat at the next polls and will apply as a poll candidate with a party that fields candidates in all 400 constituencies.
He also denied reports about bargaining for a cabinet seat if the UTN wins the coming general election.
A source at the PPRP said Mr Anucha would join the UTN and work with Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin, who recently moved from the PPRP to the UTN, to secure as many House seats in the Central region as possible.
Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin, another key figure in the Sam Mitr group, insisted most members will stay put at the PPRP.
Asked if he and other key figures of the group will stick together, Mr Somsak said: "The group is like a big family with several children. When they grow up, they will break away, lead their own lives and run their own businesses. They should be given an opportunity."
Mr Somsak also did not rule out the possibility of Mr Anucha parting ways with the PPRP.
Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit, another key faction figure, on Wednesday denied reports that he would move to another party.
Observers pointed out that the Sam Mitr group is known for a political policy of "joining the winning side".
As a means of survival, members are ready to break away from the group to join any party that stands a better chance of winning in the coming polls, and they will reunite again if those parties come to power, observers said. The Sam Mitr group does not stake its political future solely on the PPRP as its members migrate to various parties as a risk-management strategy, as in the case of Mr Anucha.
Mr Anucha will support Gen Prayut in the next polls, while Mr Somsak and Mr Suriya will remain with Gen Prawit at the PPRP, according to observers.
Moreover, several MPs of the Sam Mitr faction have also moved to other parties, such as Bhumjaithai and Pheu Thai.
Such a move will boost their chances of securing cabinet seats if any of those parties form a coalition government after the next polls, observers said, adding that sticking only with the PPRP will shut the door on their chances. The Sam Mitr faction now has about 30 MPs.
The group first came to public attention after Mr Somsak and Mr Suriya had dinner with former Pheu Thai MP for Loei, Preecha Rengsomboonsuk, in the northeastern province on June 18, 2018.
It later announced it would support Gen Prayut to become prime minister ahead of the 2019 election and went on to persuade several former MPs in the Northeast to join the PPRP.
On Nov 18, 2021, Mr Somsak led a group of more than 60 politicians to apply for PPRP membership.
Meanwhile, a source at the UTN said the party would unveil its list of MP candidates after Feb 28, with Gen Prayut set to be the PM candidate and secure the No.1 spot on the party list.
- Palang Pracharath
- Anucha Nakasai