Pheu Thai considers dumping PM
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Pheu Thai considers dumping PM

ANAlysis: NACC case, angry rice farmers make Yingluck a risky bet

The Pheu Thai Party may be forced to review its strategy and drop Yingluck Shinawatra as a candidate for the prime minister's post in a fresh election, a party source says.

Pheu Thai Party may drop Yingluck Shinawatra as a candidate for the prime minister. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The caretaker premier is facing battles on several fronts, some of which are not up for negotiation, according to the source.

She faces impeachment for alleged dereliction of duty in the rice-pledging scheme. This comes as thousands of farmers rally in Bangkok and at Suvarnabhumi airport to demand the government pay for the rice they have pledged under the programme.

The source said that while the Pheu Thai Party will fight tooth and nail to ensure that a new government is formed by the election, it doubts if Ms Yingluck stands a chance of contesting the polls.

The National Anti Corruption Commission (NACC), which has summoned the prime minister to answer charges on Thursday, is expected to wrap up its inquiry in two months. An indictment is likely to eliminate her chances of seeking office.

While Pheu Thai’s original strategy was that Ms Yingluck would not bow to the anti-government side’s pressure for her to step down, it remains to be seen how long she can stick to this line.

According to the source, pressure is mounting on the caretaker prime minister now that anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) demonstrators are taking aim at businesses linked to the Shinawatra family.

The source said there is a chance she may face multiple lawsuits — from the anti-government protesters and the farmers.

The Pheu Thai Party may opt for someone who is not from the Shinawatra family to take over, as it did when it chose Samak Sundaravej as prime minister.

However, the party will not go for someone who shares "Mr Samak’s characteristics", an apparent reference to caretaker Labour Minister Chalerm Yubamrung.

"We want someone who can work with the party and align himself with the system, not the kind who has his own gang and doesn’t care about the party system," the source said.

However, the Shinawatra family seems to be in fighting mode. Yaowapa Wongsawat, Ms Yingluck’s elder sister and a core member of Pheu Thai, has given the green light for pro-government supporters to rally against the PDRC.

Noppadon Pattama, a Pheu Thai strategist and a close aide of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, played down speculation that Ms Yingluck may be dropped by the party.

He said the prime minister has two months to fight charges that she neglected her duties.

As long as the NACC does not hand down a ruling, it is not fair to taker her out of the picture, he added.

In defence of Ms Yingluck’s role in the rice-pledging scheme, Mr Noppadon said the prime minister is in charge of policy-making, not the implementation of the scheme.

He said it is not for him to say if the party will choose a new candidate for the prime minister's post if the Feb 2 election is declared null and a new election is needed.

The party will have to evaluate its chances of winning when it sits down to pick a new candidate for prime minister. One name in the running is Somchai Wongsawat.

According to Mr Noppadon, the former prime minister and husband of Ms Yaowapa, a sister of Thaksin, could help the party win an election.

"Between ‘Mr A’ and Mr Somchai, who has the better chance? This is what the party has to consider. Are we trying to impress the elite?" he said when asked about the chances of an outsider being nominated to deflect political pressure.

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