As the Lok Sabha polls draw closer,the Congress-led UPA appears to be facing the same problem of desertions by allies that was encountered by the BJP-led NDA in 2004.
The ‘index of UPA unity’ has sharply tumbled with the PMK dumping it and the RJD and LJP forming a secular alliance with the Samajwadi Party for the Lok Sabha polls in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
The PMK is the latest constituent to exit from the Congress-led alliance at the Centre which has seen desertions earlier by the MDMK,TRS and PDP.
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In 2004,NDA had seen half a dozen of its allies bidding it adieu on the eve of elections.
At the same time in the run up to the last elections,Congress President Sonia Gandhi had gone the extra mile to bring secular forces on one platform.
She had literally walked to her next door neighbour in Delhi and LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan,approached NCP Chief Sharad Pawar,who had parted ways with her party on the foreign origin issue,extended the olive branch to DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi and others,initiating the coalition mantra.
The first to quit the NDA camp was LJP which broke away soon after the Godhra incident and its aftermath in 2002. Others who had quit the company of the saffron forces ahead of those polls were the PMK,MDMK,DMK,INLD and RLD.
Out of these PMK,MDMK and DMK in Tamil Nadu became part of the UPA while Paswan had made common cause with the Congress earlier.
The UPA which had a smooth run for over four years got a major shock last year when the Left parties,which were its key outside supporters for four long years,withdrew support to the government on the issue of the Indo-US nuclear deal.
At that time,extension of support by the Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party had helped the Manmohan Singh Government to tide over the crisis by securing the trust vote which the opposition had alleged was won on money power.
Mayawati’s BSP,which had supported the UPA in the Presidential elections,was also a prominent opponent of the Government during the July 22 trust vote.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has been dismissive of suggestions that it was the end of the UPA after the RJD and LJP virtually left the Congress in the lurch in Bihar which has now been contesting most of the 40 seats in the state.
The Telengana Rashtra Samiti had left the UPA on the issue of separate Telangana while the Vaiko-led MDMK parted ways ahead of the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu in 2006 seeking a proactive role on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue.
PDP left the UPA last year ahead of the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir after Congress parted ways with it in the polls. The National Conference with which the Congress entered into a tie-up after the Assembly elections last year is on board the UPA.