Bookies bet on Manmohan Singh government to win

July 19th, 2008 - 9:45 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Arjun Sen
New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) With less than 72 hours to go before the Indian parliament votes on a trust motion, bookies in the country - who have seen Rs.10 billion ($250 million) worth of bets flow in so far - see the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government sailing through. As hectic parleys continued by the opposition and ruling coalition partners to defeat or win support for the trust motion, the Indian bookies, notorious for fixing cricket matches, are offering odds of 38 paise for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government to win - and Rs.2.90 if it loses.

This means, if a punter places a Re.1 bet on UPA winning and that happens, he or she stands to make only Re.1.38. But if someone bet on the UPA losing and that happens, the punter would earn as much as Rs.3.90 on the original Re.1 bet.

“We see a lot of cross voting and abstentions. This is what makes us confident that the government will win the trust motion,” said one bookie based in the national capital, who did not wish to be identified since betting is illegal in the country.

Voting on the trust motion is scheduled in Lok Sabha Tuesday after Left parties withdrew support to the UPA government over the ruling coalition’s decision to go ahead with the process of finalising the Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

According to various estimates, punters had placed bets worth Rs.10 billion ($250 million) by Saturday evening. Bookies believe that by Tuesday morning, this figure would cross the Rs.30-billion ($750 million) mark.

According to a Mumbai-based bookie, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, whose Bahujan Samaj Party has 17 members in the Lok Sabha, may leave no stone unturned to defeat the confidence motion.

“But we feel that the support of Samajwadi Party (which has 39 MPs), and some cross voting and abstentions will ensure a victory for the government - even if it is with a small margin,” he said.

“In fact, we are also going by the sentiments in stock markets. Market analysts also feel confident that at the end of the day, the government will survive.”

The bookies pointed out that the sensitive index (Sensex) of the Bombay Stock Exchange, seen as a barometer for the performance of Indian stocks, had surged 536.05 points, or 4.26 percent Thursday, and by another 523.55 points, or 3.99 percent Friday.

“In such situations, ruling parties generally have an advantage when it comes to mobilising support,” said Naresh Pachisia, managing director of Kolkata-based SKP Securities, a leading distributor of mutual funds in eastern India.

“The ruling coalition’s floor managers will somehow wean away enough MPs from smaller parties to see them through,” was his general refrain - similar to the sentiments expressed by several brokerages and market analysts.

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