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Bookies back Manmohan for another term
MUMBAI: The desi betting industry has received a boost with the announcement of general elections. Leading bookies like Shobhan Mehta, Laxmichand Thana, Ramesh Goyal, K C Indore, Viresh Borivli, Subhas Mhow and Sonu Chembur have reinforced their network in India and abroad in preparation for the polls.

"These bookies follow political developments very closely and have their own informants in major political parties. Hundreds of crores would have been wagered by the time the first phase of the polls start," a crime branch official observed.

Incidentally, various studies around the world indicate that the betting industry (comprising both legal and illegal bookmakers) has its ear closer to the ground and often outsmarts psephologists and political pundits when it comes to poll predictions.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appears to be a favourite as of now, unlike the NDA's prime ministerial candidate, L K Advani. While a rupee bet on Singh becoming PM will fetch you a profit of Rs 2.50 (1:2.5), in the BJP leader's case, it is 1:5. The chances of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati becoming PM appear to be slim with the odds at 1:25. NCP leader Sharad Pawar is better off at 1:8.

The other odds are as follows: BJP (for winning 120 seats)-- Rs 1.10; Congress (150 seats): Rs 1.20; BSP and allies (50 seats) — Rs 5; for 40 seats — Rs 2 and 30 seats —— Re 1.

In Mumbai, the odds for winning are: Kirit Somaiya (BJP Mumbai North-East) — Rs 2.50; Gurudas Kamat (Cong, most likely from Mumbai South-Central) -- Rs 1.50; Priya Dutt (Cong Mumbai North-Central) — Rs 2; Ram Naik (Mumbai North)— Rs 1.25. Even though the fight in Mumbai South is mostly likely to be between Milind Deora of the Congress and Mohan Rawle of the Shiv Sena, bettors are keenly waiting to see if Mohammed Ali of the BSP will remain in the fray since he could tilt the balance either way.

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