They are Amar Singh of the Samajwadi Party, Pranab Mukherjee and Ahmed Patel of the Congress, Sharad Pawar of the National Congress Party, Mayawati of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Prakash Karat of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and N Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party.
Amar Singh pursues a brand of aggressive politics in which allies can be won over or dumped. Ahead of the July 22 trust vote, he is being seen as a key strategist of the UPA-SP combine, quite capable of ensuring defections. He believes that the ruling combine will secure 280 votes, nine more than what is actually needed to win the vote of confidence.
Low-key politician Ahmed Patel, who is Sonia Gandhi's political secretary, has been concentrating on keeping the Congress and the UPA flock together. He has been tasked with the responsibility of providing Sonia Gandhi with accurate political feedback.
Pawar, with over four decades of political experience, has always been known for his reach across the Indian political spectrum. Identified as a patient negotiator, he has been roped in to deal with the regional parties such as Jammu and Kashmir's National Conference and the Janata Dal (Secular). Has a reputation for assiduously cutting and achieving political deals.
External Affairs Minister and key Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee is regarded as a man for all seasons. Having over three decades of political and parliamentary experience, Mukherjee is the UPA's pointsperson and has the ability to reach out to all leaders, irrespective of their political persuasions.
BSP supreme and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati is currently sitting pretty as the front of a viable Third Front. She is now being seen as the fulcrum of a movement to unseat the UPA Government.
CPI-M General Secretary Prakash Karat will seek to leverage the clout of the UNPA, and is reportedly open to the idea of joining hands with the BJP-led NDA.
And finally, there is former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP leader N. Chandrababu Naidu, who must have the support of five MPs, but has emerged as a potential king or queen maker, ready for a political alliance with Mayawati and other like-minded leaders.