United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is the present ruling coalition of political parties heading the government of India. The coalition is led by the Indian National Congress (INC), which is currently the single largest political party in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the parliament of India). The Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, and the Council of Ministers are drawn from members of the UPA. INC's President, Sonia Gandhi, serves as the Chairperson of the UPA.
The UPA was formed soon after the 2004 general elections after it became clear that the previous ruling coalition, the National Democratic Alliance (or the NDA) had been defeated. The NDA had got only 169 MPs in the 543 member 14th Lok Sabha:
The Indian communist parties (called the Left Front), the Samajwadi Party with 39 (now 33) MPs and the Bahujan Samaj Party with 19 (now 17) MPs were other significant blocks that opted to support UPA at various phases of its 50 month rule. The UPA did not enjoy a simple majority on its own in the parliament, rather it has relied on the external support given by these parties to ensure that it enjoys the confidence of the Indian parliament similar to the formula adopted by the previous minority governments of the United Front and the NDA.
An informal alliance had existed prior to the elections as several of the current constituent parties had developed seat-sharing agreements in many states. However, it was only after the election that the results of negotiations between parties were announced. The UPA's policies were initially guided by a common minimum programme that the alliance hammered out with fruitful consultations with Jyoti Basu and Harkishan Singh Surjeet of the 59 member Left Front. Hence, government policies were generally perceived as center-left, reflecting the centrist policies of the INC and the Left.
At present the UPA is no longer supported by the Left parties. It survived a vote of confidence in the parliament on 22 July 2008 and is expected to last at least till its term expires in 2009.
Initially, the United Progressive Alliance was given external support from the Left Front which totaled 59 MPs. Similar external support was also promised by several smaller parties that were not a member of any coalition, including the Samajwadi Party with 39 MPs, the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam with 4 MPs , the Janata Dal (Secular) with 3 MPs, and Bahujan Samaj Party with 19 MPs, who promised to support the government if it faced a vote of confidence. Nevertheless, these parties were not a part of the government. The UPA thus _India out of 543 supporting it at the time of its formation.
The Left parties, despite ideological differences with the Congress, supported the UPA to ensure a secular government and avoid a BJP-dominated government.
Due to the volatile nature of coalition politics in India, the constituents of the UPA have been wavering. As of July 15, 2008 they were:
Outside support is currently being offered by the Samajwadi Party (33 MPs), the Bharatiya Navshakti Party (1 MP), the National Conference (2 MPs) and by the National Loktantrik Party (1 MP). In addition, rebel MPs from Biju Janata Dal , the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Janata Dal (United), the Telugu Desam Party and the independent MPs take the tally of UPA supporting MPs to 275.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) was the first party to quit the alliance, first when its ministers quit the Andhra Pradesh government, and finally when an official withdrawal was done at the national level by its president K. Chandrashekar Rao, who resigned his Lok Sabha seat.
Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), began its drift when it tied up with the UPA's rival All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) during the Tamil Nadu elections, and on March 16, 2007 officially withdrew support..
On 21 June 2008, the Bahujan Samaj Party, or the BSP, with 17 seats, announced withdrawal of its support.
On 8 July 2008, Prakash Karat, the general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (or the CPI (M)), announced that the Left Front would be withdrawing support over the decision by the government to go ahead with the Indo-US nuclear deal, a Section 123 Agreement with the United States..
|1||Manmohan Singh||Prime Minister||Indian National Congress|
|2||Pranab Mukherjee||External Affairs||Indian National Congress|
|3||Arjun Singh||Human Resource Development||Indian National Congress|
|4||Sharad Pawar||Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution||Nationalist Congress Party|
|5||Lalu Prasad||Railways||Rashtriya Janata Dal|
|6||A.K. Antony||Defence||Indian National Congress|
|7||Shivraj Patil||Home Affairs||Indian National Congress|
|8||Abdul Rehman Antulay||Minority Affairs||Indian National Congress|
|9||Sushilkumar Shinde||Power||Indian National Congress|
|10||Ram Vilas Paswan||Chemicals and Fertilizers and Steel||Lok Janshakti Party|
|11||Jaipal Reddy||Urban Development||Indian National Congress|
|12||Sis Ram Ola||Mines||Indian National Congress|
|13||P. Chidambaram||Finance||Indian National Congress|
|14||Mahavir Prasad||Small Scale Industries and Agro and Rural Industries||Indian National Congress|
|15||P.R. Kyndiah||Tribal Affairs||Indian National Congress|
|16||T.R. Baalu||Shipping, Road Transport and Highways||Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam|
|17||Shankersinh Vaghela||Textiles||Indian National Congress|
|18||Vayalar Ravi||Overseas Indian Affairs||Indian National Congress|
|19||Kamal Nath||Commerce and Industry||Indian National Congress|
|20||Hansraj Bhardwaj||Law and Justice||Indian National Congress|
|21||Sontosh Mohan Dev||Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises||Indian National Congress|
|22||Saifuddin Soz||Water Resources||Indian National Congress|
|23||Raghuvansh Prasad Singh||Rural Development||Rashtriya Janata Dal|
|24||Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi||Parliamentary Affairs and Information and Broadcasting||Indian National Congress|
|25||Mani Shankar Aiyar||Panchayati Raj, Youth Affairs and Sports and Development of North East Region||Indian National Congress|
|26||Meira Kumar||Social Justice and Empowerment||Indian National Congress|
|27||Murli Deora||Petroleum and Natural Gas||Indian National Congress|
|28||Ambika Soni||Tourism and Culture||Indian National Congress|
|29||A. Raja||Communications and Information Technology||Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam|
|30||Anbumani Ramadoss||Health and Family Welfare||Pattali Makkal Katchi|
|31||Kapil Sibal||Science and Technology and Earth Sciences||Indian National Congress|
|32||Prem Chand Gupta||Corporate Affairs||Rashtriya Janata Dal|
The UPA faced it's first confidence vote in the Lok Sabha on 22 July 2008 after the CPI (M) led Left Front withdrew support over India approaching the IAEA for the Indo-US nuclear deal. The vote was so crucial that the UPA and the opposition parties summoned MPs from their sick beds and even from prison cells to take part in the vote, which was eventually won by the Government.