Senators are divided over whether to support Srettha Thavisin if Pheu Thai nominates him for the prime ministerial vote in parliament.
Senator Wanchai Sornsiri said he was optimistic that most senators would support Pheu Thai and its prime ministerial candidate now it had split from the Move Forward Party (MFP), whose policy to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lese majeste law, was opposed by many senators.
Only when Pheu Thai manages to gather support from more than 250 MPs in forming a government will he be confident a candidate from the bloc will succeed in clinching the premiership with sufficient backing from the Senate.
Senators hope the formation of a new government will be done as soon as possible. They do not want to be criticised as an obstacle to the country moving forward, he said, adding the tax allegation against Mr Srettha could still be scrutinised later.
This week, whistleblower Chuvit Kamolvisit implied there had been land sale tax evasion in Sansiri's purchase of 400 square wah of land on Sarasin Road in Bangkok in August 2019, when Mr Srettha was still CEO.
The former massage parlour tycoon implied that Mr Srettha and Sansiri colluded with the landowners to evade 521 million baht in taxes on the developer's purchase of the prime block of land.
Several groups of senators have left no stone unturned when it comes to examining the prospects of a Pheu Thai-led government, including an offer of a place in the coalition to the MFP in the event of a cabinet reshuffle in the future, according to Mr Wanchai.
The senator said he strongly believes Pheu Thai is well aware of what it should and should not do in order to succeed in leading a new government.
Senator Seree Suwanpanont, in his capacity as chairman of the Senate committee on political development and public participation, meanwhile, said the panel has agreed to look at a petition lodged by political activist Ruangkrai Leekitwattana against Mr Srettha over the tax evasion allegation.
According to Mr Ruangkrai, Mr Srettha's part in the alleged tax evasion makes him ineligible to become a prime minister.
Senator Somjet Boonthanom said he has no reason not to vote for Pheu Thai's candidate but wondered why the party puts the charter over economic recovery.