By Thai Newsroom Reporters
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER Prawit Wongsuwan today (Sept. 22) denied he has quietly remained at odds with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and commented they have always loved each other like brothers for the last five decades.
During an official visit to flood victims in Ayutthaya, Prawit, who concurrently heads the Palang Pracharath Party, dismissed criticism that he has quietly locked horns with Prayut over some conflict of interest including a surprise event in which the latter recently ousted the former’s right-hand man, Thammanat Prompow, as deputy agriculture and cooperatives minister without having informed him beforehand.
The deputy premier bluntly blamed the press for having spread the ”groundless” hearsay about his having developed conflict with the premier.
”We have literally stuck together for over 50 years. The three of us will keep on loving each other until death do us part,” said Prawit, referring to Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda, Prayut and himself. They all are former army chiefs whose personal relationships have been invariably viewed as very fraternal.
Thammanat, who currently performs as secretary general of the Palang Pracharath Party, and former deputy labour minister Naruemon Pinyosinwat, who was deposed from the Prayut cabinet on the same day as Thammanat, accompanied Prawit on the Ayutthaya trip alongside several Palang Pracharath MPs.
Thammanat had consulted with Prawit over his political future at the Palang Pracharath Party shortly after Prayut had survived a no-confidence vote and the latter finally talked the former into holding onto the ruling party instead of leaving for another one.
Meanwhile, Prayut and Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin visited flood victims in Petchaburi and were accompanied by several MPs of the same party, including those who currently represent the western province at parliament.
The deputy premier told reporters he had decided to not accompany the premier to the Petchaburi trip simply because, he said, he could not literally take long strides to catch up with a fast-walking Prayut going on foot anywhere.
The allegedly thickly-veiled conflict between Prawit and Prayut has gradually intensified to the extent that the former’s party will no longer name the latter as lame duck candidate for head of government in the next election.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and his delegation in Ayutthaya today (Sept. 22). Photos: Siam Rath