Bookies shorten odds on Manmohan government winning


New Delhi : Indian bookmakers Sunday further shortened the odds on the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government winning the trust vote in parliament July 22.

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While bookmakers Saturday were offering 38 paise for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government to win – and Rs.2.90 if it loses – Saturday saw the odds climb down further to just 23 paise for the government to win and Rs 2.75 to Rs 2.90 for it to lose.

This means, if a punter places a Re.1 bet on the UPA winning and that happens, he or she stands to make only Re.1.23. But if someone bets on the UPA losing and that happens, the punter may earn as much as Rs.3.90 on the original Re.1 bet.

“The magic figure for winning the trust vote will be less than 272 and the government seems to already have 269 MPs on its side which is the reason why the odds have come down further,” a Delhi-based bookmaker said on condition of anonymity as betting is illegal in India.

“We expect some cross-voting and abstentions which would not only bring down the magic number to less than 272 but will also add to the UPA’s tally at the same time,” said another Mumbai-based bookie.

He said so far bets worth more than Rs.20 billion ($500 million) have been placed and the figure is likely to touch as much as Rs.40 billion ($1 billion) by Monday evening.

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.

“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 bookie said.

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.