Bookies offer Rs 50 cr to MPs, Sena worr
MUMBAI: Despite brave talk by the Shiv Sena leadership that all its 12 MPs will vote against the UPA government on July 22, there's considerable nervousness within the party.
It's learnt that at least three of its MPs have been approached not only by the Congress and NCP, but also by bookies.
It appears that the bookies led by Hitesh Samrat and Ajay Maheshwari — they consider UPA government as the odds-on favourite to survive the trust vote — have developed huge stakes in the continuance of the UPA government and are going all out to try and fix the outcome of the trust vote.
"The going rate for an MP has shot up to a mind-boggling Rs 50 crore with 50% being the down payment," said a senior Maharashtra intelligence official on Sunday. More attention is being paid to those MPs who have lost their constituencies in the delimitation exercise. "The reasoning is that since these MPs have no constituency to fight from, they'll be more vulnerable to allurements," a Sena leader admitted.
After last night's meeting at Shiv Sena boss Balasaheb Thackeray's residence, Matoshri, leader of Sena's parliamentary group Anant Gite insisted that the party was intact and that all the 12 MPs would vote against the UPA. But now the party is taking extra precautions on "vulnerable" MPs. Even if one MP cross votes or abstains, it will be a huge loss of face for Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray. That's why his detractors outside the party are working overtime to woo Sena MPs.
It's learnt that two leading bookies are camping in an upscale New Delhi hotel and contacting their potential targets. The Congress and NCP recognize that they stand to lose heavily if the UPA government falls and early elections are held.
"Anti-incumbency is so strong in Maharashtra that it will be cakewalk for the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance if elections are held now," a senior Congress minister admitted.
"The consequences of a defeat on July 22 go beyond Lok Sabha elections. They will impact the assembly polls next," he added.
Meanwhile, political parties are hiring private detectives to keep a tab on their MPs. K Krishnan, chairman of Venus Detectives, told TOI: "We've been hired by some parties to keep a watch on their MPs and major players. We are not interested in politics and are only executing a professional job of shadowing those whose names have been given to us by politicians."