United Progressive Alliance
The UPA a group of ten political parties, who together make up the ruling coalition in India\’s government.
After the 2004 general elections, the coalition had more than ten political parties, but several parties withdrew support for the alliance over the last five years. Most notably the Left Front, which has nearly 60 MPs, left the alliance in 2008 after disagreement over the Indo-US nuclear deal. The dissintergration of the UPA has led to speculation the alliance will not be able to retain power in the 2009 elections.
Indian National Congress
The INC came to dominance after India became independent in 1947. Headed mainly by the Gandhi family since that time, the INC is the chief member of the United Progressive Alliance, which currently rules. Italian-born Sonia Gandhi is the current Party Chairperson, having taken on the role shortly after her husband, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, died. India\’s incumbent Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, is a member of this party.
National Democratic Alliance
Currently the main opposition coalition in India, the dominant party in the NDA is the BJP. The alliance is make up of 13 mostly state-based parties.
Bharatiay Janata Party
The INC faces stiff competition from the BJP, a political party founded in 1980 on the platform of representing the majority Hindu population. The centre-right party was the leading party of a ruling coalition from 1998 – 2004. Party leader Lal Krishna Advani is likely to take on the role of Prime Minister if the alliance defeats the UPA.
The Third Front is a coalition of regional leftist parties formed as an alternative to the ruling UPA. Main players include the Communist Party of India, and many of the Left Front, who left the UPA after a falling out in 2008. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has reportedly said it will consider leaving the coalition if it receives enough seats in the general election. Who will take on the leadership of the coalition remains unclear.