With the BJP anointing Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as its candidate for prime ministership, betting on the likely results of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections has started in right earnest in Mumbai’s Satta Bazaar. Normally, mainstream betting starts only when the election dates are announced by the chief election commissioner. But this time around, the perception in betting circles is that the battle lines are already drawn between the BJP and the Congress.
Sources in Satta Bazaar say that the high-profile Modi is the most favoured politician today.On Friday, the odds on Modi was Rs1.30. This means that for every rupee you bet on Modi becoming the prime minister, you get Rs1.30 paise.
In sharp contrast, the odds on Rahul Gandhi was Rs3, which clearly showed that he has still to catch up with Modi. However, the odds could change depending on political developments leading up to the formal announcement of the polls.
But, as of now, it is felt that a diffident Congress is reluctant to project Rahul Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate despite age being on his side. Thus, Modi already has had a head start and this is reflected in the odds.
The odds on Dr Manmohan Singh retaining his office are rather slim at Rs12.
Sonia Gandhi also appears to be way behind in the race at Rs13. To date, bets worth about Rs90 crore have been placed at markets in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Indore, Karachi and Dubai. This figure is certain to go up in the days to come.
Said one of the main bookies: “Till Modi was formally announced as the BJP’s candidate for prime minister, there was lot of unease in the minds of bettors. They feared that LK Advani might manage to postpone it till after the assembly elections. But, with BJP president Rajnath Singh officially declaring Modi as the candidate, the floodgates were opened. Within an hour of the announcement the market received a major boost.”
The chances of the BJP managing to cross the magic 272 seat mark is considered bright and the odds are Rs1.50. For the Congress it is Rs5. Raging inflation, slowdown of the economy and the organisational weaknesses of the Congress are all factors going against the UPA government. Bookies and bettors closely study political trends, poll strategies of parties and media analyses before putting their monies. They even cultivate high-level sources in parties so as to obtain “andhar ki baat” or inside information.
Interestingly, betting on assembly elections in four of the five states has also started even though the Election Commission of India is still to announce the poll schedule. These polls are regarded as something of a semi-finals to the final match (general elections) likely to be held in April to May, 2014. Assembly polls are to be held in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Mizoram.
There is no interest in Mizoram, but there is considerable speculation about the outcome in the remaining four states where the Congress and the BJP are in power in two states each. The chances of Shiela Dikshit retaining power in Delhi, according to the bookies, is relatively good at Rs2.50, and that for the BJP is Rs4.50. This is because, the BJP unit in Delhi under its president Vijay Goel is perceived to be a divided house.
In Rajasthan, the BJP under the leadership of Vasundhara Raje Scindia is expected to do well. The huge response to Modi’s recent rally in that state has boosted the party’s image, and the odds of the saffron organisation forming the government is placed at Rs3.25 against Rs4.60 for the Congress. The BJP government led by Shivraj Singh Chauhan in Madhya Pradesh is expected to tide over the anti-incumbency factor and retain power. The odds are Rs2 for the BJP and Rs3.80 for the Congress. In Chhatisgarh too the BJP regime under Dr Raman Singh is expected to retain power and the odds are Rs2.10 against Rs4.50 for the Congress.