Shyam Saran Negi, who holds the unique distinction of being the first-ever person to cast his vote in Independent India, voted for the 34th time in his life on Wednesday.
Negi cast his vote in the Kinnaur assembly constituency in Himachal Pradesh through a postal ballot.
Never missed a vote since 1951
“I have never missed an opportunity to cast my vote since India got its Independence in 1947, and I am happy to vote this time too,” Negi said in Kalpa, some 275 km from the state capital, after exercising his franchise.
District Election Officer cum Deputy Commissioner Abid Hussain Sadiq said that a red carpet was laid to bring him to the postal booth set up in the compound of his house.
Negi was brought on the red carpet to the booth where he exercised his right to franchise.
Appeals youngsters to vote
After casting his vote, the centenarian flashed his inked wrinkled finger and requested the young voters to actively participate in the democratic exercise to get their representatives at the helm.
“The young voters should consider their duty to vote and contribute in strengthening the Nation,” he said.
PM praises Negi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday praised Negi for exercising his right to franchise.
“This is commendable and should serve as an inspiration for the younger voters to take part in the elections and strengthen our democracy,” PM Modi said on Twitter.
Last year also, he cast his vote for the Mandi parliamentary by-poll. Election officials said Negi went to the nearest polling station to cast the vote on earlier occasions.
“This time, the Election Commission made a special provisions for those above 80 to cast vote on a ballot paper at their place of residence. First, he asked that he will cast the vote on the day of polling, later he decided to cast vote in his house,” an election official said.
How Negi became India’s first voter
Born in July 1917, Negi voted for the first time in 1951 in the general elections of India and has voted sixteen times in Lok Sabha Elections. He has cast his vote in every Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabha and all local bodies after 1951. He has also been made a state election icon in 2014.
In 1951, Negi, a retired school teacher, was on election duty and had exercised his franchise in the Chini constituency, later renamed Kinnaur.
Back then, voting in the snow-bound areas of the mountain state was held ahead of other places in the country.
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