Shimla: Notwithstanding his failing vision and aching knees, India’s ‘first’ voter Shyam Saran Negi reached Sunday his polling booth in Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district to exercise his franchise. The 102-year-old was given a warm welcome by election staff at the Kalpa booth in Mandi Lok Sabha constituency, which went to polls in the last and seventh phase of the Lo Sabha elections.
“A resident of Himachal Pradesh’s tribal district Kinnaur, Shyam Sharan Negi is India’s first voter and very important for the state election department,” Kinnaur district election officer Gopal Chand told this agency.
Negi, a retired school teacher was born July 1, 1917, as per his official records. The centenarian still vividly remembers how he became India’s ‘first’ voter.
“India’s first election was held in February 1952, but the voting for remote, tribal areas in Himachal was held five months in advance, October 23, 1952, owing to fears of inclement weather rendering the exercise impossible here during winter,” Negi stated.
“I was a school teacher then and had been put on election duty. Due to it, I reached my polling booth at Kalpa primary school in Kinnaur at 7.00am to cast my vote. I was the first one to reach there and cast my vote,” he said.
“Later, I was told I was the first to cast my vote anywhere in the area,” he said with a glint in his eyes and added that he proceeded to join his election duty after voting.
Negi, who also made a special appearance in Hindi film ‘Sanam Re’, said he never missed casting his vote ever since then whether it is a panchayat election or the Lok Sabha polls.
Negi Saturday had appealed to people to elect ‘honest’ candidates for all the four Lok Sabha seats in the state.
“Elect honest and active candidates for your parliamentary seats instead of voting for particular parties. It’s my last wish to vote again. But I have got immobile legs and aching knees now, besides failing vision and hearing. So I don’t know whether this is the last time I am casting my vote,” Negi pointed out.