Outspoken Pheu Thai MP Chalerm Yoobamrung has given an ultimatum to the opposition party, saying he will quit and set up a new party if his proposals - which include promoting ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra during the election - are rejected.
He has demanded that Pheu Thai promote the fugitive former premier in the poll, and change its policies, especially for Bangkok, where he will run in the election.
He said he had spoken out because many Pheu Thai MPs disagreed with his idea to continue to promote Thaksin as a selling point for the party. Indeed, he was ignored and mocked by some party MPs.
He said some supporters of Mingkwan Sangsuwan, who is expected to lead the upcoming censure debate, sneered and said the debate could not be "fierce like before".
"Today, when we have different opinions, I have to speak out. When the party members say they won't promote Thaksin, then who will they promote to win the election? Nobody's in good shape, neither am I. I am blamed as loving my sons too much," he said.
Chalerm spoke before the start of his eldest son's wedding party yesterday, and said none of his three boys - who have been involved in a series of highly controversial dramas - would stand in the election.
"If I am to stay in politics I must set up a new party. But whether the story will go that far, I have to wait and see the party's reaction first."
He said he would decide in three months on whether there was enough time to prepare for a change before the election.
He planned to name the new party the New Alternative Party. He said he still respected and was friendly with Thaksin.
Chalerm said on Monday he would opt out if Pheu Thai's censure debate was led by his rival Mingkwan.
Chalerm, who has led censure debates many times, said this was because Mingkwan's style was too soft. He said Mingkwan should tell his supporters to stop attacking him.
At the wedding, Mingkwan told the media he did not have any conflict with Chalerm. But he walked away and did not respond when asked if he had paid some Pheu Thai MPs to support him, as claimed, and if he was ready to accept the position of alternate premier to Abhisit Vejjajiva in the censure debate.
The chairman of Pheu Thai's Bangkok MPs, Vicharn Minchainant, said Chalerm should discuss the issue in a party meeting.
Chalerm had proposed dividing Bangkok into three zones when selecting the party's candidates. However, the meeting resolved not to do this, as all candidates needed to be backed by party executives, Vicharn said.
He denied that former Thai Rak Thai Party executive Sudarat Keyuraphan, who is serving a five-year ban from politics like many former TRT executives, influenced the selection.
Vicharn said Chalerm never said clearly whether his son would be a candidate or if he wanted to propose himself as a selector of candidates for the party.
Pheu Thai MP Jatuporn Promphan said Chalerm and Mingkwan's different opinions showed the beauty of democracy. There was no rift in the party, he said, but it had not met to finalise plans for the censure debate, including the topics, speakers and schedule.
"Anyway, Chalerm must join in the censure debate. But so far we haven't met to pick the date and the list of speakers," the MP said.
"Mingkwan also has to prepare well as this is the last censure debate [in this government's term]. Although Chalerm has said he won't take part, we have to talk, just the way we have to ask General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh to run in the next election," Jatuporn said.
Chavalit told a Japanese diplomat on Monday he would not run in the next election.