Independent India’s first voter, Shyam Saran Negi (101), kept his date with the elections this time too and cast his vote at Kalpa, where he received a special welcome at the booth. For years, Negi has been hailed as an example of keeping the democratic spirit alive in the mountains, especially high altitude valleys, by religiously turning up to vote in every election.
“Maine apna farz nibhaya (I performed my duty),” he said as he walked out of the polling booth with help of officials of the district administration.
“(PM Narendra) Modi accha aadmi hai, woh desh-hit ki baat karta hai..(Modi is a good person, he speaks for the country’s betterment),” he said.
Negi has not skipped voting in a single election since October 25, 1951 — the day on which he became the first person to vote in Independent India’s first general election. He is the only surviving voter of Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh, which went to the polls much before rest of India in 1951. “That time the polls were advanced by five months before rest of India voted. It was a historic day in my life. I was first to vote at my polling booth in 1951,” he recalled.
Worried about his health and age-factor, Negi had always been ready to vote but had mostly been expressing apprehensions if he will be alive on the next polling day.