Betting fever grips State on vote counting eve

Mysuru:  Even as the Karnataka Legislative Assembly elections are just over, many people across the State are now busy in making wild calculations about the winning horses and are betting on them to make a quick buck on vote counting eve.

News about winning candidates and heavyweights who are bound to lose is heard everywhere and the betting fever is felt at tea corners, petty shops, hotels, saloons and at the gossip joints (arali kattes). People have started visiting illegal bookies as betting is banned in public under the Law.

These incidents are quite notable in semi-urban and rural areas. Even though surveys are predicting hung Assembly, people are betting more on parties coming to power on their own, sources said. Prominently, supporters who were engaged in campaigning for their respective candidates are presently busy speculating on who might secure how many votes and who may win.

Contrary to the results of pre-poll surveys and exit polls that indicated a hung Assembly, BJP is a firm favourite among the bookies. Sources told Star of Mysore that bookies are offering odds of 11 to 10 for BJP. This means, if a punter bets Rs. 10, Rs. 11 is the stake offered by the bookie if BJP gets the magic number of 112 seats as the election is conducted for 222 seats.

This translates to a takeaway of Rs. 21. The second favourite is Congress. The JD(S), whose chances of achieving the magic number are bleak, is in the third slot.

The party-wise betting market in Mysuru and Bengaluru is estimated to be worth around Rs. 800 crore to Rs. 900 crore.

Why is BJP a hot favourite?

The personal political capital that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invested in the campaign in Karnataka this time is far greater than in 2013, when he entered the arena in the last week of campaign and addressed only a few meetings in coastal Karnataka and Bengaluru. Also, for BJP, a majority of the exit polls have given it a comfortable majority.

Going by the recent history, the BJP that had won only 40 seats in 2013 thanks to the factionalism and scandal-ridden government headed by B.S. Yeddyurappa in 2008 (the State also saw three CMs — D.V. Sadananda Gowda and Jagadish Shettar), bounced back in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and won 17 LS seats. This, the party attributes to Modi wave.

Party leaders believe that the Modi wave will work in the latest Karnataka elections too. They cite the example of crowds gathered at Modi’s election rallies across the State and also compare the crowd numbers to rallies by other political party leaders.

However, critics of Modi say that the BJP performed well in LS elections in Karnataka held 2009 than in LS elections of 2014. They say that in 2009  LS polls, when BJP reached its nadir nationwide, it had won 19 seats in Karnataka, clearly indicating that before the advent of Modi wave, it did better in   the State.

What is working against Congress?

Congress has slipped to the second place in the betting market despite pre-poll surveys giving the party a comfortable lead. A couple of exit polls too predicted a narrow win for Congress.

According to sources, what is working against Congress is the statements of Chief Minister Siddharamaiah. The CM, who all along the campaigns and even before had been saying that he will be the next CM and Congress will get a majority, suddenly changed his statement after the voting that he will make way for a Dalit CM.

Speaking to reporters at his residence yesterday, Siddharamaiah said he was ready to step aside for a Dalit in the State’s top post if the party high command desires. The comment is seen as a sign of the party considering the possibility of a split verdict and anticipating the demands of JD(S) Supremo H.D. Deve Gowda, who has no fondness for Siddharamaiah.

Predicting a split verdict, many exit polls said Deve Gowda would emerge as the king-maker. The former Prime Minister, who had alliances with both parties earlier, has given a strict no-no to a tie up with the BJP. His party is said to have conveyed to Congress that it was its (Congress) responsibility to reach out to him (Gowda) if it did not get majority. And for Deve Gowda’s support to the Congress, Siddharamaiah’s exit from the top post is seen as a possible pre-condition.

Even Siddharamaiah’s Cabinet colleague D.K. Shivakumar indicated that the question of Chief Ministership is open in the event of the Congress forming government. He told reporters, “We will decide who will be the Chief Minister later. But Siddharamaiah is our leader.”

Whether BJP will form the government or Congress will retain power will be known only by tomorrow evening. Unless there is a hung Assembly and parties take time to form an                       alliance.

Cops to keep track  on illegal betting

Meanwhile, City Police Commissioner Dr. A. Subramanyeswara Rao, speaking to SOM this morning said, “Information on betting taking place in city has come to my notice. I have instructed City Crime Branch (CCB) ACP B.R. Lingappa to look into it and keep a track of it. If the information is true, legal action would be initiated against those indulged in betting. So far, I have no concrete evidence against betting, but pursuing the matter based on the information.”   

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