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M&G Bar Council vote: Hitesh Jain picks up fewer than hoped at home

Hitesh Jain
Hitesh Jain

ALMT Legal partner Hitesh Jain has fallen short of his target after tentatively winning around 199 first preference votes in the preliminary counting rounds in the first five districts out of 37 in the Maharashtra & Goa (M&G) Bar Council elections, with four other candidate building a potentially strong lead of first preference votes.

Manual counting of the ballot papers and first preference votes in the Pune districts of Pune city, Ahmednagar, Jalgaon, Nashik and Thane are now complete.

It is understood that Thane candidate Pramod Patil has won up to roughly 850 first preference votes after the first manual counts.

Former M&G Bar Council vice-chairman Jaibhave Jayant Dattatray from Nashik, Jalgaon candidate Bendale Vipinkumar Leeladhar from Jalgaon and incumbent Pune advocate Nimbalkar Harshad Vasantrao have each picked up between 650 and 400 votes.

Jain (pictured), who works in Mumbai but originally comes from Pune, explained that he had counted on winning 250 votes in Pune.

"Although in Pune it was less than expectations, I would have been happy with 200 or 149 but I will cover up Pune's loss instead from Bombay," he said confidently, due to a high law firm voter turnout in the state's financial capital.

"We had no breakthrough," said Jain about the Ahmednagar district, where he had been assured many first preference votes but only ultimately achieved up to around 11.

Jain said that after all Pune and Mumbai first preference votes were counted he would expect to make it up to 500 while picking up another 200 first preference votes in the rest of Maharashtra.

He predicted that he would finish with 725 first preference votes at the end of the count, which would place him in 14th or 15th place.

He added that he thought there would be only 21 or 22 candidates who would cross the 600 first preference vote mark at the end, with second and third preference votes then being vital to clinch a decisive majority for most.

The current figures, however, are not yet final as they are yet to be read by the electronic voting machines and some could still be invalidated.

Bar Council of Maharashtra & Goa secretary and returning officer Varsha Rokade declined to confirm any of the figures.

"We have not finished counting," she said. "[We have just counted] valid and invalid votes and then first preference votes, but they are not final."

Rokade is managing her second election for the Maharashtra and Goa Bar Council, after having stepped up to the office as secretary nine years ago.

In the previous elections five years ago after M&G held personal and preference voting rather than postal ballots, she had introduced electronic voting machines, which was a first for any state.

The manual counting of ballot papers would still take almost another three days, followed by around one month of manually feeding the almost 50,000 ballot papers into the electronic counting machine.

"Had we not done this it would take eight months or nine months [to count the votes]," she said, which is how long the manual Bar Council vote counting process can take in Uttar Pradesh.

The M&G counting has been contracted out to a group of 20 vote counters who are not affiliated with the Bar Council but are working full-time in the Bar Council's offices in the Bombay High Court annex.

The crucial votes from Mumbai will be counted last.

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