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Presidential poll: Third Front names Kalam as candidate
June 18, 2007 11:35 IST
Last Updated: June 18, 2007 15:34 IST
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 President A P J Abdul Kalam.
It also dismissed United Progressive Alliance-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 National Democratic Alliance.
"We feel there is one person who is universally acceptable for the post and that is A P J Abdul Kalam," All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 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-Bharatiya Janata Party and non-Congress alternative.
The Front, which at the meeting decided to take on the name of United National Progressive Alliance, 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 Pratibha 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."
Jayalalilthaa said Third Front leaders would approach Kalam and persuade him to contest the election. "We will all meet him and try to persuade him to change his mind."
Kalam has been indicating that he would run for a second term only if there was consensus on his candidature.
Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was among those instrumental in making Kalam the president in 2002, also eulogised the incumbent.
"There will be no better candidate than Kalam," he said.
"There is a deep political divide in the country. In the interest of the country there should be consensus on the candidate for president," Jayalalithaa said.
"We appeal to political parties to come forward and support the candidature of Kalam and give him another term," she said.
"Let us see what reactions come from the other parties," she added.
At the outset, the former Tamil Nadu chief minister said the Third Front feels there is only one personality in India who commands the respect of all sections of society -- be it industrialists, scientists, intellectuals or students.
To a question about Congress ruling out a second term for Kalam, she said, "We have made the appeal now, let us wait for the response."