Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK President M Karunanidhi today flayed the newly launched United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) for describing as ”joke”, the UPA-Left parties’ choice of Ms Pratibha Patil as its Presidential candidate.

By ridiculing the choice of Ms Patil ”as a joke played on the nation by Congress President Sonia Gandhi”, the architects of the UNPA had lowered their dignity and stature, he said in a statement here.

Mr Karunanidhi, who played a key role in evolving a consensus between the Congress and the Left parties in selecting Ms Patil, said, the UNPA could have avoided earning the tag of ”Jokers’ front” by making the remark.

It was widely expected that the front leaders, after their meeting, would come out with some important decision, but they belied the hopes, Mr Karunanidhi said.

Defending the choice of Ms Patil for the top post, the DMK leader listed the various posts held by Ms Patil since 1967, after she began her career as a lawyer.

After having served as Minister for Health, Prohibition, Tourism, Housing, Social Welfare and Education in Maharashtra, Ms Patil had served as leader of the Opposition before becoming Rajya Sabha member in 1985 and Deputy Chairperson of the Upper House in 1986.

Ms Patil became the Governor of Rajasthan in 2004 and her social service activities included starting an engineering college for students from rural areas, an industrial training centre for visually challenged, a school for tribal children and a cooperative bank for women.

”While seeking support for Ms Patil, who was qualified in all fronts to become the President of the country, we never underestimate the intelligence and stature of Mr Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who is pitted against Ms Patil,” Mr Karunanidhi added.