New Delhi, Nov. 23: Trained in economics, Manmohan Singh should know his math. But the United Progressive Alliance just canít get its arithmetic right, time after time. Or, it simply refuses to learn.
Amid all the talk of combinations of assorted BCs ' OBC, MBC, EBC ' having worked for Nitish Kumar and cracks in the MY factor for Lalu Prasad, the fact that sticks out can be understood by the Most Backward in Arithmetic. MBA, in short.
Lalu Prasad+Sonia Gandhi+Ram Vilas Paswan+Left is greater than Nitish Kumar+ L.K. Advani.
Apparently, in private Lalu Prasad is swearing murder on Paswan, the Lok Janshakti Party leader, who is part of the government in Delhi but fought the Bihar poll outside the Rashtriya Janata Dal-Congress-CPM alliance. The CPI went with Paswan, making doubly sure that the UPA, which it supports in Delhi, lost in Patna.
This is the kind of losing arithmetic that is hard to work out, but the UPA has succeeded.
Now that the vote shares of each party are available, it is clear that in spite of the apparent debacle Lalu Prasadís RJD has lost only 1.03 per cent of its vote share from the 25.07 it received in the February polls.
But by way of seats, the RJD is down from 75 to 54.
Even that marginal drop in vote share can be explained by the fact that it fielded 40 fewer candidates than it did eight months ago, giving more seats to the allies, which has not helped.
The Lalu-led alliance has, in fact, garnered a bigger vote share of 31.08 per cent this time than the 28.27 per cent it recorded in February, when the Congress was not part of it.
The number of seats for his alliance has, however, dropped from 82 to 65.
As for the rival side, the vote share has soared from 26.52 per cent in February to 35.23 per cent this time. The gain of 8.71 per cent has given the Janata Dal(U)-BJP combine 51 more seats, up to 143 from 92.
Stunning, you would say, but not if you knew that in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, the same alliance had an even higher share ' of 36.93 per cent ' but lost dismally. It was behind the UPA in over 150 Assembly segments.
So, what was so special about 2004' That was the only time the UPA did not behave like an MBA ' it got its sums right.
Lalu Prasad, Sonia, Paswan, the CPI and CPM were all together and gathered as much as 45.29 per cent of the votes.
If you add the vote shares of all these constituents, who have fought separately, at 44.4 per cent it comes within sniffing distance of that winning number.
Lesson: United you stand a chance of winning, divided youíre certain to lose.
Is anyone listening in the UPA'