Anutin denies Bhumjaithai behind ITV share case to stop Pita
Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul denied on Tuesday that his party was behind the alleged plot to block Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat from becoming the prime minister by having one of its election candidates expose Pita’s ITV shareholding.
“The Bhumjaithai will not waste time on such things because we don’t punch anyone below the belt,” Anutin said, insisting that he did not ask Bhumjaithai candidate Nik Saensirinawin to use any dirty tactic against Pita.
Suspicious eyes turned to Anutin and his party after it was noticed that Nik, a failed candidate of Bangkok’s constituency 17, was the first person to reveal about Pita's stake in ITV.
Nik wrote in an April 24 Facebook post that Pita held 42,000 shares in ITV Plc and urged Pita to come out and admit to the EC that he was not qualified to run for the election.
Nik gave another interview to reporters about the shareholding on May 9 – which happened to be the same day that political activist Ruangkrai Leekitwattana filed a complaint against Pita with the EC for allegedly holding shares in a media company.
Nik transferred his ITV shares to his friend, Phanuwat Kwanyuen, before applying in early April to contest the May 14 election.
During the ITV shareholders’ meeting, Phanuwat asked the chairman of the meeting, Kim Siritaweechai, CEO of Intouch, whether ITV was still operating the media business. Intouch holds the majority stake in ITV.
Conspiracy theories gained ground when some observers pointed out that Anutin is a close friend of Sarath Ratanavadi, the CEO of Gulf Energy Development. Gulf Energy is the majority shareholder of Intouch.
“I hereby affirm that I and Sarath have been friends for 40 years or so. Forming a coalition government has nothing to do with my friendship with someone. Please do not mix up everything,” Anutin said.
Anutin said Nik became a Bhumjaithai member just before the May 14 election and he has not held any personal talks with Nik, apart from the election plans.
Anutin said he had also congratulated Pita on the night of May 14 for winning the election and provided moral support to Pita last week and wished him success in forming the next government.