Surprised by the AAP dark horse during the Delhi elections, bookies in Delhi and the National Capital Region are predicting the Arvind Kejriwal-led party will give a similar winning encore in the Lok Sabha elections.
Though the betting books have not yet opened, bookies appear more interested in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and predict the one election-old party has a "chance" of bagging a "good number" of seats in the April 7-May 12 general elections.
The bookies are looking to bet on AAP candidates on seats across India. They feel the contest would be interesting on some seats, including Varanasi where BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is fighting, Chandigarh where two Bollywood actors are giving a fight to the Congress' Pawan Kumar Bansal and the New Delhi constituency where several big names are fielded, including Ajay Maken of Congress.
According to a bookie who did not wish to be named, they were waiting to open the rates and are hoping to reap a windfall with betting on AAP. "The bookies as well as punters are excited on the chances of AAP in the elections," a bookie who did not wish to be named told IANS. He said the bookies believe that AAP will make a "major dent" in the Bharatiya Janata Party's prospects even though anti-incumbency favours the BJP. Once the betting rates open, the punters, or those who place bets, will favour the AAP as they may get "good returns", said the bookie.
The AAP made an unpredictable debut by winning over 28 seats in the capital in the December assembly elections. The party ruled for 49 days before quitting on the issue of passing the Jan Lokpal Bill in the state assembly.
During the Delhi elections, the capital's bookies had not been very taken in by AAP. They had had pegged the BJP the lowest at 2.25 paise, and the Congress at 2.40 paise as a close second. They pegged AAP at 3.40 paise, as they thought its chances of winning were dim. In betting, the lowest returns promised means the party is a clear favourite and likely to win.
The logic of placing the lowest money on the favourite party is to attract more punters in the betting market. The more money that comes in means more business, and also larger profits to be divided. Punters place money in lakhs and if their party wins then they are paid according to the price fixed.
For example, if a punter places Rs.1 lakh bet on BJP, and if the party wins the punter will get Rs.2.25 lakh. When AAP won, those who placed bets on the party got Rs.3.40 lakh for every one lakh rupees they betted. A tidy profit!
The high-profile constituencies like Varanasi, Chandigarh, Amethi, New Delhi, Chandni Chowk and Ghaziabad would see separate betting with special rates fixed for each constituency, revealed another bookie. The rates are likely to fluctuate as polling day nears, keeping in mind last-minute political developments.
As betting is illegal, police are keeping a tab on the activities of bookies in and around the city. The officials said they would take appropriate action against any betting activity. Police usually arrest a bookie or a punter under section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code. It is a non bailable offence and the offender can be jailed for seven or more years.