Despite being in power in three of the five states where assembly election results will be announced on Monday, and thus expected to face an anti-incumbency sentiment, the BJP is likely to do much better than the Congress if bookies across the country are to be believed.
Though they differed greatly on details, bookies in Mumbai and Ahmedabad —which have two of the country’s biggest satta markets — as well in Delhi, Bikaner, Indore and Raipur, all in states where elections have been held, agreed that the BJP stood a good chance of winning the four states of Delhi, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. No bets were sought or taken on Mizoram.
Bookies in Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad were confident the BJP practically had Delhi in its pocket and VK Malhotra would be its next chief minister. In Delhi itself, the going rate for the BJP was just 40 paise, which fell to 20 paise by Sunday evening. In other words, if a person bet Re 1 on the BJP and the party won, he would get only Rs 1.20. In contrast the rate on the Congress was Rs 2.12, which means a bonanza of Rs 3.12 on every rupee staked, if the Congress pulls off an upset. (On wrongly placed bets of course, the entire amount staked would be lost.)
Only in Bikaner did bookies claim that the BJP-Congress contest in Delhi was down to the wire.
All agreed that the Congress’s chances had been much better before the terrorists struck in Mumbai on November 26. “After Mumbai, there has been a swing against the Congress and the game has become even more unpredictable,” a regular punter in Bikaner said. (Neither bookies nor punters were willing to reveal their names as the entire business is illegal.)
In Rajasthan, Bikaner bookies claimed the Congress had been well ahead before November 26, but was now fighting hard to still maintain a winning edge. Bookies in Mumbai agreed. But Ahmedabad’s bookies insisted the BJP was well ahead in Rajasthan too.
Mumbai’s and Indore’s bookies predicted a BJP sweep in Madhya Pradesh, but those in Ahmedabad and Bikaner insisted the contest would be keen.
In Chhattisgarh, the only state where polling was completed before the November 26 attack, bookies in Raipur predicted a close finish, with the Congress having a slight advantage. The rates were 60 paise on the BJP and 50 on the Congress. But those in the larger betting markets of Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Bikaner claimed Raman Singh’s BJP government was all set to win a second term.
“Business has been dull this time due to the recession,” an Ahmedabad bookie summed up.
(Inputs from Vijaita Singh, Delhi; Rathin Das, Ahmedabad; Srinand Jha, Bikaner; Manish Pachouly, Mumbai; Ejaz Kaiser, Raipur and Salil Mekaad, Indore)