Pheu Thai 'winning back defectors'

Linda and husband Assani Cherdchai of Nakhon Ratchasima have reportedly rejected recruiters for the pro-military party and decided to stick by Pheu Thai. (File photo)

The Pheu Thai Party is winning back some of its former MPs who had planned to defect to the pro-regime Phalang Pracharat Party, according to a party source.

The former ruling party is bracing for the electioneering which will proceed after the National Council for Peace and Order lifts its ban on political activities, which may happen in January next year ahead of a poll expected in the following months.

The source said efforts by the Sam Mitr (Three Allies) group to draw former MPs away from Pheu Thai were winding down and the party is beginning to get a clearer picture of who will stay and who has decided to leave.

The source insisted most of the former MPs in the Northeast were staying put despite heavy lobbying by Sam Mitr.

In the constituency-rich Nakhon Ratchasima where Pheu Thai won the lion's share of seats in previous elections, the party has been rattled by Sam Mitr's approaches.

So far, only politicians from the Rattanaset family and Suporn Atthawong, a former leading red-shirt figure, have parted ways with Pheu Thai.

Several former MPs in the province, such as Assani and Linda Cherdchai, have decided to stay put after eyeing a switch to the Phalang Pracharat and possibly taking a number of colleagues with them, said the source.

However, Yongyut Tiyapairat, a former executive of the defunct People Power Party which is the predecessor of Pheu Thai, met with the Cherdchais and convinced them to remain.

The source added that Pheu Thai was also welcoming defectors from other parties. In Constituency 10 of Nakhon Ratchasima, former MP Boonjong Wongtrairat, who is a key member of the Bhumjaithai Party, has spoken of his intention to join Pheu Thai and contest the election under its ticket.

The party promised it would field Mr Boonjong in Constituency 10 in the next election.

Anusorn Iamsa-ard, acting Pheu Thai deputy spokesman, has also obtained the green light to run in Nakhon Ratchasima's Constituency 1 as a reward for his hard work as one of the party's most vocal critics of the regime.

The source said the party has drafted a manifesto which it will unveil when the political ban is lifted. The highlights include abolishing mandatory military conscription and spending the money for the proposed submarine procurement on hospitals instead.

The party will also announce plans to boost the economy, a task it believes the regime has failed at, at campaign rallies around the country.

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