The dramatic announcement by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee to withdraw support from the UPA has brought back memories of July 2008, when her rivals — the Left parties — had severed their four-year-old relationship with the UPA-I.
Though the Left parties and Trinamool Congress have been at loggerheads in West Bengal for many years, ironically they took turns to support the UPA government one after the other during the last eight years. But the end result was similar — both pulled the rug on a single issue, the Left on the nuclear deal with the US and the Trinamool on FDI in retail.
The CPM-led Left parties, with their best-ever tally of 61 Lok Sabha seats in the 2004 elections, had become an important outside ally for the Congress-led UPA-I. The relationship between the two continued for four years, though fissures had started appearing within a year of the marriage, mainly on economic issues. The situation took a turn for the worse when UPA-I decided to go ahead with the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal in 2007.
A coordination committee headed by then external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee to pacify the Left managed to pull the relationship till July 10, 2008, when finally the break point came. In a single day, the Left’s withdrawal of support was promptly followed by the Samajwadi Party, with 39 MPs, announcing its support for the government. The same evening, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced his decision to seek a vote of confidence in the House.
The government won the confidence vote by getting 275 votes in its favour and 256 against it on July 22.