In the lull between polling and counting, punters rushed to place bets worth Rs 20,000 crore on what was better - 'pizza' or 'roti'. There was also 'papad' on offer, but it had few takers.
Pizza, roti and papad were among the code words bookies used while taking bets so as to avoid the police net. Pizza, code word for Congress, was the hot favourite among punters, while roti saw lesser volumes, a bookie said in Mumbai [ Images ]. BJP's PM hopeful L K Advani [ Images ] was code-named papad.
The betting volume topped Rs 20,000 crore, up from Rs 11,000 crore in the 2004 polls.
Bookmakers earned a profit of Rs 5,000 crore, but could have made more had there been no ban on exit polls by newspapers/news channels in between the five phase polls, said a bookie, known as 'RT' in the betting circles.
There were other code names as well. 'Fish curry' for Pranab Mukherjee [ Images ], 'gutka' for Sharad Pawar [ Images ], zaban mein haddi nahin for Lalu Prasad, ghar toru for Amar Singh [ Images ], pinjre mein sher for Rahul Gandhi [ Images ], gaswala for Ram Naik and munnabhai ki bahen for Priya Dutt [ Images ], among others.
As counting began on Saturday morning, Manmohan Singh [ Images ] and Congress emerged as hot favourites.
On Friday, Congress was estimated by punters to get 125 seats and the rates opened with 23 paise (which meant that if a punter invested 23 paise, he would get Rs 1.23 paise if Congress won 125 seats). On Saturday, the rate closed at Rs 2.60 paise for 155 seats victory for Congress.
The corresponding rate for NDA was Rs 1.07 paise on Friday which rose to Rs 1.22 paise on Saturday.As regards the third and fourth front the rates were Rs 22 and Rs 50 respectively on Friday.
On the next day, the rate for the third front rose to Rs 26 but for the fourth front it failed to make any headway. The rates for the probable prime ministerial candidates were Rs 1.10 paise for Singh, Rs 3.75 for Advani, Rs 6.75 for Sharad Pawar, Rs 7.50 for Pranab Mukherjee and Rs 23 for Mayawati [ Images ], said Vijay, another bookie, from Chembur.
While they used code-names, bookies also shifted outside Mumbai. Many from Mumbai and Thane shifted their bases to Lonavala, Khandala and Mahableshwar in Maharashtra, Ahmedabad [ Images ] and Surat [ Images ] in Gujarat and Indore and Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.