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Punters bet big on Pranab as President

Palak Shah & Abhishek Vasudev/Mumbai/ New Delhi 15 Jun 12 | 12:29 AM

Even as 24, Akbar Road, continues to toss between the names for Presidential candidate due to opposition from allies, bookies in the ‘satta bazaar’ have declared their hot favourite. Punters are riding high on odds that Pranab Mukherjee, at 76, will become the next President of the country.

The turnover in this illegal betting market has already touched Rs 500 crore after rates were declared in the betting circles of Mumbai, Delhi, Gujarat, Calcutta and Jaipur among other centres last evening. According to bookies, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) will manage the numbers game to push their candidate for the President’s post. Bookies are offering Rs 0.6 against every rupee bet on Mukherjee as President.

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While Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari were said to be the first two choices of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, both Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Mulayam Singh Yadav of Uttar Pradesh’s Samajwadi Party (SP) had rejected them as candidates. In turn, Banerjee and Yadav had proposed the names of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former President A P J Abdul Kalam and former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.

“We in the satta bazaar trust Sonia Gandhi’s manoeuvring skills. Now that it has become a major ego issue for the UPA, Mamata will be isolated. UPA may manage to get Mukherjee elected as the president with the help of Mayawati and other smaller parties," said a bookie from Delhi.(HOW THE NUMBERS LOOK FOR PRANAB MUKHERJEE)

Even if TMC and SP do not back the proposal from Congress, the UPA would have 48 to 50 per cent votes in their favour with the help of Bahujan Samajwadi Party and others. A candidate requires more than 50 per cent votes to get elected.

Major bets were pouring in from political circles, say bookies. According to sources, bets were to be accepted till July 4, the last day for candidates to withdraw their nominations. The settlement would take place through havala on July 22, when the results would be declared. Chief Election Commission V S Sampath had declared July 19 as the poll day.

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