If one goes by Kolkata’s bookmakers, Bengal is in for a photo finish come May 19, the counting day, as no one party holds a clear edge over the other.
The odds separating the ruling Trinamool Congress and the Left-Congress alliance amount to no more than three paise, the clearest hint yet that the battle for Nabanna is too close to call and could well go right down to the wire.
With the odds pitting the Trinamool and the alliance in a close contest, speculation that has already reached fever pitch on whether Mamata would return to the hot seat or whether the alliance could turn the tables on Trinamool is likely to hit a crescendo. There is a sense that the Left and Congress, which sealed an informal alliance to avoid a split in opposition votes, could well put the skids on the Trinamool.
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According to sources close to Kolkata’s betting rackets, every bet worth Re1 placed on the Trinamool will fetch a return of Rs 1.55. Those wagering in favour of the alliance will pocket Rs 1.58 for every bet worth Re1.
“This clearly shows that the Trinamool Congress and the (Left-Congress) alliance are in for a photo finish. The bets separating them are no more than three paise. The response has been quite encouraging this time as bets are being placed by the dozens,” a bookie in Howrah said.
After a month-long run, in six phases and over seven days, the Assembly polls got over on May 5. All eyes are now on May 19 when the harvest will be known.
Sources close to bookies said bets are also being invited for individual candidates from across the political spectrum. For instance, every Re1 bet placed on Trinamool’s Chowringhee candidate Nayana Bandopadhyay will fetch a return of Rs1.45. Those wagering in favour of her Congress opponent Soumen Mitra, will earn Rs1.55 for Re1 bet placed. The odds clearly indicate a fight to the finish in this prestigious Assembly constituency.
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Firhad Hakim, the urban development minister in the outgoing cabinet who took a lot of flak in the wake of the Posta flyover collapse, is also in for a close finish if the bets are any indication. While every Re1 bet placed on him will fetch a return of Rs 1.35, those on his opponent will fetch Rs1.45 for every rupee.
Mamata, however, seems set for a comfortable win with the odds at Rs 1.60 for every rupee bet. Those betting on her Congress opponent, Deepa Dasmunsi, are in line to pocket Rs1.90 for every rupee.
As speculation on the harvest intensifies in the absence of a clear favourite, betting frenzy has gripped both the urban and semiurban areas of Bengal. In fact, the bets on who will hold Bengal’s reins for the next five years are going neck-and-neck with those vying for the IPL crown.
“Usually, it is the IPL that draws bets at this time of the year. However, this time, the bets on the elections, too, have drawn a good response,” a sub-bookie from Burrabazar said.