Saturday, October 24, 2020

Election

Punters looking at seat-sharing in NDA, Grand Alliance in Bihar

IANS | October 01, 2020 03:18 PM

PATNA:Punters are optimistic about seat-sharing among the alliance partners of both the ruling National Democratic Alliance and the opposition Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) in the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections.

The betting market is focusing on seat allocations of three major parties -- the BJP and the JD-U for the NDA and the RJD in the Grand Alliance followed by their alliance partners. Since the three parties have not revealed their plans so far, the bidding prices are fluctuating in accordance with the volatile situation every hour. The bookies have claimed that individuals can take "Calls or Put" (terminology for placing bids) on their favourite political parties through off and online procedures.

In Patna, bookies believe there is a close contest between the JD-U and the BJP in the NDA. The situation is, however, different in the Grand Alliance where the RJD is the largest party.

Punters believe that the JD-U will take 105 to 115 seats and the BJP 95 to 105. On the other side, the RJD could get 175 to 190 seats and the rest will be left to its alliance partners -- the Congress and the Left parties. The Bihar assembly elections will be fought on 243 seats and voting will take place in three phases.

"The betting market generally works against the predictions of the majority and it can apply in the Bihar assembly elections, too, " a punter said.

"It has been proved by the move of Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) President Upendra Kushwaha. Every one was predicting that he would join the NDA after breaking away from the Grand Alliance. Kushwaha has taken another path by going with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Janvadi Party (Socialist). Such moves are actually beneficial for the betting market, " he added.

Elaborating on the current bidding prices, a punter said "the RJD in GA is undoubtedly a bigger party compared to the Congress. Hence, a person will get Rs 25 for the investment of every Rs 100 if the RJD contests between 175 to 190 seats. On the other hand, if the Congress contests above 60 seats, an investor would get Rs 55 per Rs 100 investment."

Similarly in the NDA, if the JD-U manages to get 105 to 115 seats, the bidders will earn Rs 20 for the investment of every Rs 100. As the BJP plays second fiddle to the JD-U in Bihar, punters are not optimistic of the BJP getting more than 105 seats. Accordingly, they are offering Rs 25 for every Rs 100 investment. If an investor is optimistic about the BJP getting more than 105 seats, punters are offering Rs 45 per Rs 100 investment.

"The punters are interestingly looking for developments in the LJP. The party headed by Chirag Paswan is at present extremely unpredictable. Hence, maximum bidding follows on LJP. The punters are offering Rs 35 per Rs 100 if the party gets 30 seats in the NDA. In case the LJP gets more than 40 seats, the investor would get Rs 60 per Rs 100. As the chances of the LJP contesting elections separately are very slim, bookies are offering Rs 80/100, " he said.

The seat-sharing formula in both the alliances is expected to be announced in a day or two.

"As per the thumb rule in the betting market, the party having higher chances of getting seats generally gets lower value for the same amount of investment. The same rule applies in winning and losing the elections later on, " he added.

"As per open bidding, the underground illegal market is focusing on seat projections, prominent candidates, hot seats, migration of voters from particular constituencies and native voters, " the punter said.

The underground betting market in the context of the Bihar elections may not be as big as in the Lok Sabha elections 2019 but it is certainly five times higher than in the last Assembly elections in Bihar. Different estimates by punters suggest that the election betting stands between several hundred crore to thousands of crore. Since this illegal sport is unregulated, there is no proof to substantiate the claims. The minimum betting amount is Rs 5, 000.

Instant access to mobile apps and websites operating abroad has made it easy to transact money online even via places like London, Bangkok, Dubai and Hong Kong.

"It is a multi-million dollar business. Bets change every day, " said a person familiar with the international betting market referring to a website operating from London, which throws up daily betting rates for the number of seats that JDU, BJP, RJD and Congress will bag or not.

The payment is done through back channels, sources said. Larger bets in several lakhs involve off-shore accounts, too. Most of the betting on elections is done telephonically. Bookies are reached on call, text, where they reveal the odds for a particular bet. The bookies generally use an app called "telegram" to contact their members. It is similar to WhatsApp with the only difference that you can include unlimited members. In Whatsapp only 256 members can be added as members in one group.

"If you know a bookie, you need not pay in advance. If you come through a reference, you pay 50 per cent in advance. Cash transactions happen in cases of small bets but the larger bets -- in several lakhs -- involve off-shore accounts, too."

Nitasha Guria, SP of the Economic Offences Wing (EOW), Patna told IANS, "We have not received any complaint related to betting in Bihar so far. However, state headquarters have alerted police at district level to look into any suspicious activities."

Recently, the Patna police carried out a search operation in hotels and checked the identities of guests. The hotels have been asked to accommodate only those guests who have valid identity proofs.

"As there is a possibility that the bookies may operate individually or as part of an organised international syndicate, we keep an eye on activities of identified bookies and hawala traders. Our crime team will act instantly on information we receive, " said another official preferring anonymity.

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