Bookmakers predict a hung assembly; claim betting will be very much like in cricket, where the stakes alter after each and every ball

The run-up to assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh has set the illegal betting market abuzz with bookies putting their money on a hung house, said sources close to the bookmakers.

Stakes were high on the possible successor to the Mayawati-led BSP government which was facing a tough challenge to stage a comeback, they said. Unlike assembly elections in the past, the bookies this time were not expecting any single party to win a clear majority, the sources claimed.

Jumbo loss: Latest betting market trends suggest that the ruling BSP
may end up with just 118-122 seats. File pic

Elections in 403 constituencies in the state would be held in seven-phase voting between February 8 and March 3. Results would be out on March 6. Sources said that the latest betting market trends suggested that the Samajwadi Party may win 137-141 constituencies. The ruling BSP may end up with 118-122 seats. The Congress was expected to win 66-69 constituencies and the BJP's tally may range between 52-56 constituencies, they said.

"As the polling days get closer, speculation is bound to change," said a source close to a bookie, adding that "it will be very much like cricket, where the stakes alter after every ball."

He said the only difference between cricket and electoral battle was the extent of the stakes. "While the last cricket World Cup saw bets to the tune of Rs 30 crore in UP, the elections are expected to see bets worth Rs 10 crore," he said.

"As of now, betting is on a very low key and the stakes may not be more than Rs 1 crore. The bets would increase drastically in the coming days," he said.

A police official said, "There is no denying the fact that 'satta' business thrives during elections. We have a special cell to look into the illegal 'satta' business and I am sure we will grab most of the bookies once they come out of their holes."