At 100, Independent India's first voter set to vote again

At 100, Independent India's first voter set to vote again

This election in Himachal Pradesh is set to witness a rare feat of sorts in the backdrop of a riveting fact from the pages of the electoral history of the hill state.

Residents of high-altitude Kinnaur were the first to vote in Independent India's first general election in 1951. Other parts of the nation voted a few months later. This was because elections to these regions were advanced to avoid incremental weather and heavy snowfall.

This region has another distinction. Among the lakhs of voters who will cast their vote, one man will be conspicuous by his presence.

Shyam Sharan Negi is officially India's first and now the oldest voter, set to cast his vote for a record time on November 9. Negi, a resident of  Kalpa in Kinnaur district, turned 100 in July this year.  

Negi was a government primary schoolteacher, and a part of the polling party in the state during the country's first general elections. He was the  first person to vote on October 25, 1951.  

Till the previous  election in 2012, Negi was fit enough to walk to the polling station. But now, he finds it hard to walk because of joint pain, said his  younger son, Chander Prakash. His family said they would escort Negi  to the polling booth.  Negi, a father of 10, has voted in all the general elections and this will be his 12th Assembly polls.

In 2010, former chief election commissioner Navin Chawla visited Negi at his village to honour him as part of the poll commission's  diamond jubilee celebrations.

A Modi fan  

Negi is a Modi fan and feels that the prime minister  has the determination to square the circle.  

Negi recounted  his experience when he voted for the first time 66 years ago. According to Negi, ballot boxes had to be moved and relocated using  mules as  the terrain was treacherous.  The  first polling booth, which was inside a school building under Chini constituency (present day Kinnaur), was set up 10,000 feet above sea level.

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