The Indian government empowered after the 2004 election faces its first real governance crisis today as the Left Alliance has withdrawn its support from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) cabinet. The government was formed when the UPA, a pre-election coalition of the Indian National Congress and numerous state-specific parties, won the most seats, but less than a majority at the election. It formed a minority government with formal support from outside provided by the alliance of leftist parties. It is a conflict over the terms of “outside support” that has generated this crisis. Specifically, the UPA has told the Left that it can’t share the terms of the nuclear pact it has negotiated with the International Atomic Energy Administration with “third parties.”
That the governing agreement would fail some time in 2008, and that it would likely come to a head over the contentious issue of the US-India nuclear accord, is less than surprising. Elections are due by May, 2009, and have been widely expected to come sooner. The UPA and Left each have no other certain allies in the current parliament with which to form a majority,1 which means the government may survive a while until the UPA decides it is time to go to the polls and seek a majority on its own (possibly including new pre-poll allies). The Left, on the other hand, needs to emphasize its independence leading up to elections.
The UPA government is expected to call a confidence (or “trust“) vote on 11 August. Presumably it will survive, for now, as the Left will not want to vote along with the opposition BJP and force either an immediate election or a temporary BJP minority government leading up to elections.
- The first-linked item notes that the government’s parliamentary backing “would go up to 265 with the support of the Samajwadi Party’s 39 MPs, but leave it still seven short of the 272 MPs needed for majority support.” [↩]