Anutin hugs Prayut, but insists no pacts made for UTNP-led coalition
Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul put his arms around Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at the request of reporters after attending the caretaker Cabinet’s first meeting on Tuesday.
However, Anutin, who is also public health minister, was quick to say that this hug does not mean his party has made a deal to join a United Thai Nation Party (UTNP)-led coalition.
Anutin said it is too soon to predict the composition of the next coalition, as everything will depend on the results of the next election.
The date of the election has been tentatively set for May 7.
Upon spotting Anutin and Prayut walk out together after the Cabinet meeting, a reporter said it was good to see them together.
Anutin responded with a guffaw, while Prayut said he was relieved the country has been in good order for the past several years.
Then another reporter asked if the two leaders will be close after the election, and asked them to display a sign of friendship.
In response, Anutin hugged Prayut and rested his head on the PM’s chest, much to the delight of the reporters.
When asked if the two have already cut a deal for the next government, Prayut said: “The election has not been held yet.”
Anutin again laughed and later insisted that he had visited Prayut in his office to deliver birthday wishes. He said the two of them did not talk about any coalition deal as speculated by reporters.
Prayut was born on March 21, 1954, and dissolved the House just one day before he turned 69.
Anutin said several Cabinet members had visited Prayut to wish him a happy birthday, and some even gave him flowers and garlands. Among the visitors was Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, who is also leader of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party.
As for their friendship, Anutin said it is natural to develop some attachment after working together for four years. He said it’s like they’ve become university friends.
The minister added that in the caretaker Cabinet’s first meeting on Tuesday, Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam briefed them on what they can and cannot do during the transitional period. After the meeting, the Cabinet members got together for lunch at 11am, he said.
As for whether he had made a deal with Prayut to try and block Pheu Thai from winning, Anutin said: “No. No such formula or deal [has been made].”