|HOME | NEWS | ELECTIONS '98 | YEH HAI INDIA|
|February 17, 1998||
Haresh Pandya in Rajkot
Gambling in Saurashtra is like never before. On a high, a real, concrete high, all thanks to the electoral process underway.
So you have bets here. Bets galore. Not on horses or any such cliched stuff, but on politicians and parties.
Naturally, Rajkot being the nice cosy town it is has been chosen the nerve centre for all such activities. And bets worth millions are being placed every day...
For the bookies, the Bharatiya Janata Party is the favourite. Most of the players in the game sincerely believe the saffron brigade, together with its allies, would win over 190 seats. The Congress, they feel, would bag around 140 seats.
Besides passionate professionals, rookies -- traders, businessmen and such locals -- too have now clued in on the game. And the bookies -- those hardworking chaps -- are trying their level best to give their customers maximum satisfaction. Thus, they keep an open mind, a 'national perspective', and accept bets not only on Gujarat but on Rajasthan, too.
For the Lok Sabha election in Gujarat (assembly seats are also betted on), the bookies say the BJP would improve its tally to 18 seats while in Rajasthan it would go up to 13.
Different rates are being quoted for different seats. A key player, meanwhile, revealed that the operation was being controlled by bigger players from Bombay.
The top-guns, expectedly, are remarkably professional. They have the election data pouring into computers and 8 to 10 lines through which they keep in touch with every change in the scenario.
The going rate for the BJP is rising with the rise in the election tempo. The present trend is that those favouring the party with 175 seats would get 70 paise. The rate jumps to Rs 4.50 for every seat above 200.
On the other hand, the rate for the Congress is 16 paise for 100 seats, 80 paise for 125 seats and Rs 3.25 for 150 seats and above.
Bets are being played not only on seats but on who would win by what margin, who would lose their deposit, by how much and the like.
In Rajkot, besides the five-six known dens, betting is also being done by phone. Important players would get home service.
All the bookies gather at the Sanganwa chowk area in the evening to discuss their day's proceedings and appraise themselves of the 'trends' in the political market.
Heavy trading goes about for the Rajkot parliamentary seat and the Rajkot-1 and Rajkot-2 assembly seats. However, experts say the real gambles are yet to start -- those will begin when the candidates for assembly seats are finalised.
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