The Telegraph
Saturday , May 17 , 2014
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A day in a dealing room

Heard in a broker’s dealing room in Calcutta on May 13, 2004: “Is desh ka kuchh hone wala nahin hai bhai, sirf kheti-baari (Nothing will happen to this country brother, only farming).” The market was bracing for a thumping majority for the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA but the result sprang a surprise.

Ten years on, the young broker, now in his late 30s with streaks of grey and sitting in a swankier office, could not stop smiling. “Desh firse azaad ho gayi (The country achieves Independence once again),” he said.

The Telegraph sat by in the dealing room in Calcutta and watched the reactions as the sensex in Mumbai kept track of politics in Delhi:

9am: The writing is already on the TV screen. Brokers predict an initial pop, a jump from the previous day’s close. SGX Nifty, the Singapore-based index that tracks the Indian market and gives an early indication because of the time zone difference, is already up by 284 points

9.15am: The sensex opens 365 points up and then zooms by 1000 points. At the stroke of the minute, loud screams break out across the room. Brokers take fresh positions (buy new shares) or sell off shares bought at a lower price earlier. “Watch out for public sector stocks, he (Modi) will turn them around,” a broker says

9.20am: The market seems wobbly, falling off the cliff. “Don’t sell Reliance, the BJP might get absolute majority,” one suggests to the other. The eyes are as much glued to the trading terminal as on the big LED TV across the wall where the early trends are flashing

9.25: ONGC is up as well as Bank Nifty, which has many nationalised banks. “This man (Rahul Gandhi) should lose,” says one as the early trends come from UP

9.35: The market climbs 1,000 points again. The rupee strengthens and drops below 59 against the dollar

9.46: The sensex touches 25000. The excitement is palpable in the fourth-floor room that overlooks GPO from a large window

10.02: The benchmark index inches up. Drumbeats and exploding crackers appear on TV outside the BJP headquarters. The brokers break into a jig too. “Desh firse azaad ho gayi,” one of them says

11am: Calm returns after the initial hoopla. Freshly cut fruits arrive on the table. Laughter in the room as Arnab Goswami demands more answers from Manmohan Singh!

11.40: A new mobile ringtone catches the ears. The NaMo anthem by Sukhwinder Singh. “Arre, mujhe bhi do,” goes the clamour to share the tune

12.10pm: Cheers in the dealing room. The man of the moment appears on TV, taking the blessings of his mother. Asked if they are making money, pat comes the answer: “Aaj nahi karenge to kab?

12.45: The markets are tapering off

1.20: Tapering further. The grumble becomes audible for the first time. “People got carried away, boss. Bhao itna zyada char gaya (the prices had hit the roof),” says one

1.48: The market wipes out all the gain. The sensex and Nifty dip into the red. The Supreme Court bans iron ore mining in Odisha. Tata Steel tanks. Economics takes precedence over politics

3.30: The market closes at 24121.74, up by a mere 216.24 points.

Sambit Saha