Springing a surprise, the Third Front on Monday brought in a new element in the presidential race by coming out in support of a second term for APJ Abdul Kalam.
It also dismissed UPA-Left nominee Pratibha Patil as a "joke played on the country by Sonia Gandhi" and maintained that many parties have "reservation" over supporting Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, whose candidature as an independent is backed by opposition NDA.
"We feel there is one person who is universally acceptable for the post and that is APJ Abdul Kalam," AIADMK Supremo Jayalalithaa told reporters along with other Front leaders, including Chandrababu Naidu and Mulayam Singh Yadav.
The announcement came after a meeting of the Front on the issue in the backdrop of the predicament it faced in deciding its strategy on the Presidential election in view of its declared projection of being a non-BJP and non-Congress alternative.
The Front, which at the meeting decided to have the name of United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA), said that it would make efforts to persuade Kalam to run for a second term.
"We are making an appeal now to all political parties who are part of NDA-BJP, UPA-Left, particularly DMK, to support Kalam for a second term because he is from Tamil Nadu," Jayalalithaa, a known detractor of DMK, said.
Criticising the UPA's decision to field Patil in the presidential election, she said "UPA-Left has put up a candidate like Pratibha Patil which many people consider is a joke on the nation. They think this is some kind of a joke by Sonia Gandhi."