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High-flying Thai businessman sets his political sights on the sky

Anutin Charnvirakul is widely tipped to become the next prime minister

Anutin Charnvirakul is being tipped as a potential candidate for prime minister once Thailand holds a general election. (Photo by Marwaan Macan-Markar)

BANGKOK At diplomatic receptions in Bangkok, Anutin Charnvirakul, leader of the Bhumjaithai political party, is burnishing his credentials as a future star in Thailand's political firmament. Dressed in dark, well-cut business suits, he holds court to eager listeners, peppering them with insights about surviving under a military regime that has banished political party activities since a 2014 coup.

He is also much sought after at private dinners hosted by foreign envoys, a useful measure of his rising political stock. "Anutin is within the top three figures for diplomats to meet," said a Western diplomat. "He can be rather cautious in a public setting, but the political strategist in him comes out when speaking privately."

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