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Country’s first voter, set to cast vote at 106 in Himachal polls

Considering his health issues, the Election Commission has made special arrangements for him to cast his ballot. The district administrations of Kinnaur will send a special car and a wheel chair to pick him up to the poll booth and drop him back, and like always a warm welcome will be given by laying a red carpet for him.

Rachna Verma | Shimla |

Himachal Pradesh assembly elections have a history of kicking out ruling party every time. But what makes the polls special this time around is that the country’s first voter, Shaym Saran Negi, a resident of the Kinnaur district of the state, is again ready to cast his vote.

Despite deteriorating health and problem in walking, Negi is all set to exercise his democratic right at an age when politics matters little to people. When contacted by The Statesman, Negi said since I don’t know whether this is my last vote, I have decided to exercise my franchise this time.

Considering his health issues, the Election Commission has made special arrangements for him to cast his ballot. The district administrations of Kinnaur will send a special car and a wheel chair to pick him up to the poll booth and drop him back, and like always a warm welcome will be given by laying a red carpet for him.

Committed to the cause of nation building, Negi never missed an opportunity to vote since 1951. Navin Chawla, who was then India’s chief election commissioner, went to Kalpa Village to congratulate Negi in 2010. He was appointed brand ambassador by the Himachal Pradesh state election commission in 2014 to motivate young people to vote. To honour his valuable contribution to the state, the EC has made a documentary on him which is available on YouTube.

After Google posted his video for their #PledgeToVote campaign during the 2014 Indian legislative elections, Negi, a former teacher at a government school who retired in 1975, gained international fame as well. Moreover, he represents a tribal community who has a contribution to nation building.

How did he gain fame?

According to official documents, Negi was born on July 1, 1917. He had previously said that although India’s first general elections were conducted in February 1952, voting took place five months earlier, on October 23, 1951, in tribal regions of the state because of the concerns over bad weather which would make the process difficult during the winter.

“At that time, I was a teacher and had been assigned election duty. As a result, I arrived at the Kalpa Primary School in Kinnaur’s polling booth at 7 am to cast my ballot. I was the first to cast my ballot. I later came to know that I was the first voter in the country,” he said.