The satta bazar or the illegal betting mafia is expecting the BJP to garner the highest number of seats, in nearly two decades, in the upcoming Gujarat elections, scheduled in two phases on December 1 and 5.

Bookies are expecting the turnover in the illegal market to touch nearly ₹40,000-50,000 crore.

The Patel factor

Back in 2002, BJP had won 127 seats in the 182-seats State Assembly, under the leadership of the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi. This time, bookies told businessline, the party could win at least 120 seats.

A key catalyst for such high expectations is that the party is not facing any backlash from the dominant Patel community, unlike in 2017. Back then, BJP’s tally had fallen to 99, the lowest since 2002, as the community rose in agitation with reservation demands.

Hardik Patel, the face of the Patel agitation during the 2017 elections, left the Congress party to join BJP in June this year. The Patel community forms 12-14 per cent of the State population, and bookies say they will vote for BJP en masse.

As for the Congress, the party will be missing Ahmed Patel, a key strategist and a long-time aide of the Gandhi family, who played a big role in mobilising cadre. Patel died of multiple organ failure in 2020. The seat tally for Congress is expected to be restricted to between 15 and 30, a drastic fall from 77 in 2017.

The Aam Aadmi Party, on the other hand, will eat up 10-20 seats of the Congress as even their minority votes are likely to be divided due to a lack of strong leadership in the State, said bookies.

Similar trends are visible in Himachal Pradesh too, where polls are scheduled on November 12. There too, BJP is expected to retain power and the anti-incumbency factor may not play much of a role, said bookies.