KINNAUR — Ahead of exercising his franchise on Sunday, India’s “first” voter Shyam Saran Negi Saturday appealed to Himachal Pradesh electors 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,” 102-year-old Negi told PTI.
Negi voted again during the final phase of 2019 general elections.
“A resident of Himachal’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 PTI.
A retired school teacher, Negi, as per his official records, was born on July 1, 1917.
Negi 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 on October 23, 1951 owing to fears of inclement weather rendering the exercise impossible here during winter,” he said.
“I was a school teacher then and had been put on the election duty. Due to it, I reached my polling booth at Kalpa Primary School in Kinnaur at 7 am 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.
Negi added he proceeded to join his election duty after casting his vote.
Negi, who also made a special appearance in Hindi film “Sanam Re”, said he never missed casting his vote ever since then whether it be a panchayat election or the Lok Sabha polls.
Talking of his desire to vote again, Negi had on Saturday complained of his failing health as possible impediment in fulfilling it.
“It’s my last wish to vote again. But I have got immobile legs and aching knees now, besides failing vision and hearing,” said Negi.
On Negi’s apprehensions, District Election Officer Gopal Chand had said, “Negi is very important for us. We will have him brought to the polling booth and drop him back at his home.”
“We still take care of his health and other needs. A government doctor regularly visits him to check his health,” he said.
Negi is among 999 voters of the state who are 100 or above, a state election official said.