What's the bet Pranab Mukherjee will be the next resident of Rashtrapati Bhawan? Given the current volatility, politicos are not venturing out on that one yet, but bookies are braver; Mr Mukherjee is their first favourite. A whopping Rs 800 crores in betting money is reportedly riding on the Presidential elections.
That's right. The only math down to the last decimal is not being done in Delhi's political party offices. In some bylanes of Mumbai, bookies have their fingers crossed that the uncertainty over nominees for the next President of India will continue a little longer; that will allow for more lucrative betting and more quick bucks to be made.
At present, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is a bookies favourite. For every rupee bet on Pranabda, the punters get 50 paise.
Their second choice is not Vice-President Hamid Ansari - clearly historical convention does not sway odds here. After Mamata Banerjee and Mulayam Singh Yadav dropped a political bombshell on Tuesday evening suggesting the names of APJ Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, the bookies are offering Rs 6.50 for every rupee bet on the Prime Minister.
Though the punters are watching every political move - meetings, press conferences, speeches, announcements, analysis, even undercurrents very closely - the Congress' emphatic and official no to Dr Manmohan Singh as President is clearly yet to register.
In third position, so with much more money to be made if you bet on him and he becomes President, is Dr Kalam. The punters are offering Rs 8 in betting odds on him. Only after him does Mr Ansari figure at Rs 12 and Somnath Chatterji makes the last spot at Rs 18.
Why the overwhelming odds on Pranab Mukherjee? "Sonia Gandhi has made her preference very clear so we bookies are of the opinion that Pranabda is the favourite," said a bookie on condition of anonymity. Another said though the political arithmetic was changing every second, "we feel that this time we have got it right".
They would hope so. They reportedly made huge losses recently in betting during the Indian Premier League season 5. Betting on cricket is big business and the bookies have reportedly got it wrong in most of the major cricket tournaments of recent times, incurred losses of a mindboggling Rs 50,000 crore.
But they have managed to call right in politics. They were spot on during the election for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in Mumbai, the richest municipal corporation.