A rumoured "secret deal" between Pheu Thai and the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) has been thrust into the limelight again as the wife of a close friend of Deputy Prime Minister and PPRP leader Prawit Wongsuwon has been named candidate No.22 on Pheu Thai's party list.
The opposition Pheu Thai Party on Tuesday named the 100 candidates on its party list for the May 14 general election, with senior and core members at the top.
Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, Pheu Thai's chief adviser on public participation and innovation and head of the "Pheu Thai Family", led the election candidates to City Hall in Bangkok's Din Daeng district to register for the party-list system.
Dr Cholnan did not make the list. He has applied to run as a constituency candidate in his home province of Nan.
The first 20 candidates on the list are: Pol Lt Gen Virote Pao-in (1), Sompong Amornvivat (2), Prasert Chantararuangthong (3), Chusak Sirinil (4), Pol Capt Chalerm Yubamrung (5), Kriang Kantinan (6), Suriya Juangroongruangkit (7), Suchart Tancharoen (8), Sutin Klungsang (9), Chaikasem Nitisiri (10), Somsak Thepsutin (11), Wisut Chainarun (12), Chaturon Chaisang (13), Pairote Lohsunthorn (14), Noppadon Pattama (15), Songkhram Kitlertpairote (16), Prayut Siripanich (17), Adisorn Piangket (18), Nikom Boonwiset (19) and Khattiya Sawasdipol (20).
Candidate Nos.1-13 are senior members with key positions in the party who are responsible for overseeing the election campaign in various areas.
Nos.1-40 are considered to be in the "safe zone", with a high chance of getting a House seat, a party source said.
One surprise on the list is candidate No.22, or Praveenuch Intapanya, who is the wife of Gen Noppadol Intapanya, a senator and a close friend of Gen Prawit.
Gen Prawit and Gen Noppadol were former classmates at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School, as well as at the Chulachom Klao Royal Military Academy.
This prompted Jatuporn Prompan, chairman of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and now one of Pheu Thai's most vocal critics, to call attention to the possibility of a secret deal between the two parties.
Under the deal, the parties would form a coalition government and nominate Gen Prawit as the next prime minister after the next poll, he said.
"Gen Noppodol is widely known to be Gen Prawit's close friend. His wife was named a party-list candidate has triggered suspicion about the connection between Pheu Thai and the PPRP.
"Pheu Thai key figures have repeatedly denied a tie-up with the PPRP and insisted they will not hand the post of prime minister to Gen Prawit. Their democratic stance will be proven, and we will see their true colours after the poll.
"The people must be prepared in case they are betrayed. They must deal with those who go back on their word," Mr Jatuporn said.
He said Gen Prawit and Pheu Thai have enjoyed close ties since the former served as army chief.
Gen Prawit kept this role from Oct 1, 2004, to Sept 30, 2005. At the time, the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai Party, the predecessor of Pheu Thai, was the ruling party. Thai Rak Thai was founded by fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
Pheu Thai's deputy leader Sutin Klungsang denied talk of a secret deal.
He said Ms Praveenuch had supported the work of Pheu Thai for a long time, so it was a reasonable decision to name her as a party-list candidate.
"I insist there is no connection between Pheu Thai and Palang Pracharath. This has nothing to do with the ties with Gen Prawit. There is no such deal to form a government and give Gen Prawit the post of prime minister," Mr Sutin said.
Meanwhile, property tycoon Srettha Thavisin said he resigned from all positions at his Sansiri real estate developer empire to prevent any conflicts of interest and free him up to pursue his political work with Pheu Thai.
Mr Srettha confirmed on Tuesday he had relinquished all positions at Sansiri, a public company.
Mr Srettha previously served as Sansiri's president and chief executive. He is currently an adviser to Ms Paetongtarn. He has also been named Pheu Thai's second prime ministerial candidate after her.
Mr Srettha did not comment on his chances of becoming prime minister, merely saying he hoped Pheu Thai would win by a landslide.