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Guess who’s the favourite of bookies in high-stakes Gujarat elections

The bookmakers are offering Rs 1.25 for every Rs 1 placed on a BJP win, and Rs 3 for every Rs 1 placed on a Congress win.

assembly elections Updated: Nov 27, 2017 16:07 IST
Manish K Pathak
Manish K Pathak
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Gujarat elections,Gujarat polls,BJP
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah being garlanded during “Gujarat Gaurav Mahasammelan” in Ahmedabad.(PTI File Photo)

The Bharatiya Janata Party will most likely win between 118 and 120 seats in the upcoming Gujarat assembly elections, although it is possible that it could win just around 100 with the Indian National Congress winning up to 80 seats in the 182-member assembly, according to bookmakers in Gujarat and Mumbai.

Although betting is illegal in India, a huge underground betting business sprouts around key events — important cricket matches, for instance, or elections. Bookmakers are usually a good source of information on possible outcomes, although they are highly unreliable and have sometimes got things spectacularly wrong. There is a Rs 1,000 crore betting business associated with the Gujarat assembly elections according to the bookmakers, all of whom spoke to Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity.

According to the bookmakers, the BJP will return to power, but there’s a possibility that it could end up with fewer seats than it did in 2012, when it won 119. The most likely scenario, though, according to the bookmakers, is that it will win between 118 and 120 seats — a number not very different from what a few BJP leaders have been quoting in private. The payouts offered by the bookmakers reflect their opinion that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal as a son-of-the-soil, and BJP president Amit Shah’s strategising will win the day for the party which has been in power in the state for 22 years.

The bookmakers are offering Rs 1.25 for every Rs 1 placed on a BJP win, and Rs 3 for every Rs 1 placed on a Congress win.

In early November, they were offering Rs 7 for every Rs 1 placed on a Congress win; the change reflects how far the Congress has come in pubic perception.

“The prices will change closer to the election date as we will get a much better picture on how both BJP and Congress have been performing,” said a bookie. That could also indicate how the Congress’ partnership with Hardik Patel has worked. For now, though, it seems to be advantage BJP.

“The Modi magic will ensure that BJP win the polls,” said a second bookmaker.

The BJP’s campaign in Gujarat has come up against the Patidar protest, the angst against the Goods and Services Tax in some parts of Gujarat, and anti-incumbency. “There will be a stiff competition in urban areas of Gujarat where the vote percentage for BJP could go down; the rural areas, which constitute, majority of the vote bank will remain largely unaffected,” said a third bookmaker.

The electoral battle is largely between the BJP and the Congress although there are other parties in the fray. Bookmakers are offering Rs 10 for every Rs 1 bet on an Aam Aadmi Party win, Rs 25 for Rs 1 bet on the Shiv Sena and Rs 30 for every Rs 1 bet on the Nationalist Congress Party.

First Published: Nov 26, 2017 20:22 IST