Will Yaowapa steal limelight from Yingluck?
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Pheu Thai faction leader Yaowapa Wongsawat are siblings poised to share the spotlight, but the question is whether the political stage is big enough to accommodate both at the same time.Under the existing arrangement, Yingluck takes centre stage while Yaowapa, their brother Thaksin and his ex-wife Khunying Pojaman na Pombejra remain on the sidelines.
Yaowapa is, however, slated to contest the Chiang Mai by-election in the next few months. She looks like a shoo-in to win the House seat.
Actually, Chiang Mai Constituency 3 has always been her stronghold. Due to political turbulence, she faced a five-year ban and was forced to designate her daughter Chinnicha as successor in the previous two general elections.
But Chinnicha had to vacate her House seat following her conviction for asset concealment.
Kasem Nimmolrat, Chinnicha's aide and "chauffeur" for Yaowapa, won the by-election last year.
Early this month, Kasem abruptly tendered his resignation, effective March 13. He cited health reasons for his departure.
Although Pheu Thai whips said he wanted to switch track and serve in the Chiang Mai provincial administration, rumours have persisted about various behind-the-scenes scenarios.
Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit commented on the matter on Sunday and gave a clue on Yaowapa's pending return to the legislature.
Prompong said Kasem made his own decision to work in the provincial government.
He hinted at Yaowapa as the logical choice to contest the by-election, although he did not confirm nor deny her candidacy.
He went on to dismiss a number of allegations involving PM Yingluck, which in turn, gave a startling insight into why Pheu Thai is pushing Yaowapa into the limelight.
In one of the allegations, the National Anti-Corruption Commission has targeted Yingluck for a probe on alleged asset concealment.
The gist of the case is Yingluck had failed to disclose her Bt30-million loan given to a company run by her husband Anusorn Amornchat.
The party spokesman played down the case as frivolous even though the NACC ruling, if unfavourable, could lead to the job suspension of the prime minister, pending a judicial review.
The attempt to shield the prime minister has backfired and exposed Pheu Thai's worry about her losing the job.
Yaowapa's rush to grab a House seat after the expiry of her ban suddenly makes sense.
The party spokesman might be right that his ruling party is not grooming a replacement for Yingluck. But the Shinawatra clan is bracing for all possible contingencies.
The arrival of Yaowapa means the clan is determined to keep control of the government's helm.
The clan's interest comes, obviously, before that of the country's. To ensure the continuity of Shinawatra control, taxpayers will have to dole out at least Bt10 million for organising the by-election.
If the NACC rules to drop the case and Yingluck's job is safe, then Bt10 million would have gone down the drain.
With Yingluck and Yaowapa sharing the limelight, the clan would be obliged to devise a new power-sharing arrangement to keep the two siblings happy.
The pressing issue is whether the public is witnessing the birth of a political dynasty.