The confusion triggered by initial trends in Bihar elections by several news channels suggesting a lead for BJP led NDA, resulted in a windfall for bookies like Dujari.
Many news channels, in less than an hour after the counting started, started projecting a landslide win for the NDA. This prompted many people to put their money on NDA forming the next government.
But almost two and half hours later the projections turned on their heads with Nitish Kumar led Grand Alliance emerging as a clear winner. Everybody who had placed their bets on NDA lost the money which meant gains for the bookies.
“Apne to ache din aa gaye( good days are here),” said Dujari, 54, punning on prime minister’s electoral promise of ache din to the countrymen.
The nattily dressed Dujari is seated on a thick mattress on the floor of a three room apartment in Posta’s Kali Krishna Tagore Street. He has three cell phones kept infront of him that ring incessantly. The whirring air conditioner is shutting out all the noise and pollution in the congested wholesale hub.
Dujari’s “control room” is replete with a large sofa, a refrigerator, dining table and a large screen television mounted on the wall. Three people, who appear to be in their late 40s, are seated beside Dujari. Two of them have three cell phones each in front of them while the third is busy working on the laptop.
“I have seen and speculated on several elections in the past 32 years but this was unprecedented. For the first two hours nobody had any clue what was happening. Such confusion is good for our business,” said Dujari.
NDA had started as favourites with 160 seats much before the election went underway on October 12 with the rate of Re 1. Which means if NDA pulled through, anybody betting on NDA would receive Re 1 for every Re 1 placed as bet.
By the end of phase 5 of voting, the bookies had toned down their prediction of NDA to 110. But on once the counting started on Sunday morning, there was a surge in people betting on the NDA.
“NDA was not only leading but racing ahead. By 9am some news channels were even predicting they will touch the 150 mark. We were flooded with calls from people interested in placing their bets,” said Nandu Sonkar (name changed), a young bookies in Burrabazar’s Banstalla.
Amit Tiwari who was looking to make a quick buck just before Diwali was a disappointed man on Sunday.
The 34-years-old wholesaler of ladies garments in Burrabazar speculated on an NDA win going by the early projections.
“I had thought that luck would favour me just before Diwali and NDA would form the government in Bihar. But the trends in the morning were so misleading,” said Tiwari.
Senior police officers in Kolkata claimed that they did not have any tip-off about betting taking place in the city.
“If somebody provides us with specific information, we will definitely carry out raids,” said an officer of the anti-rowdy section of Kolkata Police.