The Pheu Thai Party on Wednesday said it would welcome back with open arms the Sam Mitr faction if it defects from the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), the ruling party, ahead of the general election.
The departure of the Sam Mitre faction from Pheu Thai to PPRP was an important step in the formation of the first government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Despite denying having been in talks with the group about its possible defection to the country’s main opposition party, Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew on Wednesday confirmed some MPs in the faction had already left PPRP for Pheu Thai.
Based on what Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin, chairman of PPRP’s strategic panel and a key figure in the faction, told reporters on Tuesday, the final decision is likely to be made no later than next week, Dr Cholnan said.
Mr Somsak said that decision would be made by another figure in the faction, Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit, a PPRP deputy leader.
Asked whether Pheu Thai offered any important positions to Mr Somsak, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, Pheu Thai’s chief adviser on public participation and innovation, said the party would welcome any former Pheu Thai members who wanted to return to it.
Dr Cholnan, meanwhile, said there had been no discussion about any position for Mr Somsak if he returned, or any others in the Sam Mitr group.
Mr Somsak on Tuesday made it clear that Mr Suriya would have the final say on whether they leave the PPRP, and which party they would go to.
He said he still has some important duties to complete as justice minister. After that, he and the group would be free to go wherever they wished.
He preferred to go where there were prospects of him being part of a future government. He had no knack for functioning as a member of the opposition.
In his political career, he had never been on the opposition bench, he added.
Democrat Party list MP Malika Boonmetrakul said a number of former MPs from other parties had recently moved to the Democrats, including Porapol Adireksarn, a former Pheu Thai MP.
Mr Porapol would represent the Democrats in constituency 1 in Saraburi, a political stronghold he had won repeatedly in past polls, Ms Malika said.
According to Ms Malika, Mr Porapol decided to join the Democrats because he had strong faith in the country’s oldest political party and its leader.
In contrast, the Democrat Party has seen quite a few members, including stalwarts, departing to join other parties.