Sudarat Keyuraphan and her daughter attend a retro-themed fair in January 2019.

BANGKOK — The caretaker of the Pheu Thai Party on Monday said the abrupt resignations of its leaders are strictly a tactical move and not a sign of a “takeover” by any individual. 

Pheu Thai Party acting chairman Chusak Sirinial said the departures of party leader Sompong Amornvivat and chief strategist Sudarat Keyuraphan, among several others, will open an opportunity for younger politicians to have bigger roles in party leadership. 

“The new generations will be given a chance in administering the party more than before,” Chusak said. “This will show that we listen to the voices of the new generations.”

Chusak also discounted the speculations on social media that the resignations are part of a deal to form a “national unity government, and that Potjaman Pombejra, ex-wife of ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, would take over the party. 

Pheu Thai Party on Sept. 28, 2020, announces it will replace its current logo, at left, with a new design, at right.

The rumors intensified after Potjaman was granted an audience with King Vajiralongkorn last week. Official news reports say Potjaman was donating medical equipment to His Majesty the King for public use. 

Chusak said these are “mere speculations”. What he termed as a party revamping took place because the Parliament is currently not in session and Sompong has more time now, Chusak said. 

“It just happened that it coincided with the political situations and became news. But that’s not what it’s all about,” Chusak said.

Pheu Thai Party caretaker spokesman Chumsai Siriyapai would not confirm on Monday about reports regarding Potjaman’s future role in the party, but admitted that there are various factions within the party “that they need to talk and were unhappy”. 

The discontent may contribute to some of the resignations, he said. 

A file photo of Sudarat Keyuraphan.

Titipol Phakdeewanich, dean of political science at Ubon Ratchathani University, also said he believed internal conflicts played a bigger role in the surprise resignations than the need to bring in young blood. 

“I don’t think the matter about the new generation is the main factor,” he said. “It may be more about the future direction of the party, particularly its party base in the northeastern region.” 

Sudarat’s departure was a closing chapter to the long saga of what’s believed to be a bitter rivalry within Pheu Thai Party, a conflict that reportedly pit her supporters against leading members of the party who believe someone else should take the reins. 

A group of Pheu Thai MPs based in the northeast also boycotted a party meeting earlier this month to show their resentment toward Sudarat, a report on Prachachat said.