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2004 Election - Congress / United Progressive Alliance (UPA)

The ruling BJP-led coalition was defeated in a five-stage election held in April and May of 2004. The Congress Party, under the leadership Sonia Gandhi, the widow of Rajiv Gandhi, formed a coalition government, known as the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). It took power on May 22 with Dr. Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister. The UPA's victory was attributed to dissatisfaction among poorer rural voters that the prosperity of the cities had not filtered down to them, and rejection of the BJP's Hindu nationalist agenda.

The Congress-led UPA government continued many of the BJP's foreign policies, particularly improving relations with the U.S. Prime Minister Singh and President George W. Bush concluded a landmark U.S.-India strategic partnership framework agreement on July 18, 2005. In March 2006, President Bush visited India to further the many initiatives that underlie the new agreement. The strategic partnership is anchored by a historic civil nuclear cooperation initiative and includes cooperation in the fields of space, high-technology commerce, health issues, democracy promotion, agriculture, and trade and investment.

In July 2008, the UPA won a confidence motion with 275 votes in its favor and 256 against. The two-day special session of parliament to consider the confidence motion culminated late on 22 July 0082 with a victory for the Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition government. The tally was 275 votes in favor of the confidence motion, 256 opposed, and 12 absences or abstentions. The vote followed a threatened walk-out by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after its representatives dumped millions of rupees on the floor of parliament allegedly paid by UPA representative in exchange for abstentions. In the end, they did not walk out.

Following a dramatic July 22 confidence vote, the political fallout produced an emboldened United Progressive Alliance (UPA), a demoralized National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and somewhere in between, a regional party amalgam "Third Front," struggling to achieve national prominence. The Congress Party-led UPA government's victory breathed new life into the ailing coalition. The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) momentum, which had been building after a string of electoral wins, had been at least momentarily halted. Defections to the UPA exposed the BJP's poor political management. The Left, which prompted the vote by withdrawing support for the UPA, was dealt a severe blow.

In late November 2008, terrorists killed at least 164 people in a series of coordinated attacks around Mumbai. Prime Minister Singh promised a thorough investigation and Home Minister Chidambaram pledged significant reforms to improve Indias counterterrorism agencies.

The Congress-led UPA coalition gained a more stable majority following the May 2009 elections, riding mainly on the support of rural voters. Manmohan Singh became the first Prime Minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to return to power after completing a full 5-year term. In July 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to India to launch the Strategic Dialogue, which called for collaboration in a number of areas, including climate change, trade, education, and counterterrorism. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Washington, DC in late November 2009 for the first state visit of the Obama administration.

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