Anutin downplays recent meeting with PPRP chief

Anutin downplays recent meeting with PPRP chief

Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul said yesterday that he is open to holding talks with any political party for the time being, and that the party is expected to win 70 House seats in the upcoming general election.

His comments followed a report saying that he and other key Bhumjaithai figures had lunch with Prawit Wongsuwon, deputy prime minister and leader of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, in the compound of the 1st Infantry Regiment on Wednesday. The report fuelled speculation that the two parties may be open to forming a coalition after the election.

Mr Anutin, who is deputy prime minister and public health minister, yesterday said he met Gen Prawit to discuss the political situation and their readiness for the poll, tentatively scheduled by the Election Commission to take place on May 7.

“Gen Prawit asked me about the estimated number of House seats Bhumjaithai [would win] and I told him the party may have about 70 representatives,” Mr Anutin said, adding the estimation is based on opinion polls and the fact there will be a total of 500 representatives after the next election.

“What’s so strange about having a meal with a government manager? For the time being, it is not strange for politicians to meet during meals,” Mr Anutin said. “If anyone invites me, I will be there. If the opposition leader invites government parties for a meal, I think I will be there.”

The Bhumjaithai leader also denied that a released photo of his group having lunch with Gen Prawit was meant to discourage rival parties.

He also said that the passage of a cannabis control bill would be a condition of his party’s participation in the next government.

The coalition Bhumjaithai Party successfully pushed for the decriminalisation of cannabis in the middle of last year, but the state has yet to have a law to effectively control its use.