iconimg Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Richa Srivastava, Hindustan Times
Lucknow, February 20, 2012
1952: City went for its first assembly elections. With a lot of enthusiasm, the voters cast their vote, putting a ‘tick mark’ against the party of their choice. No stamps and no machines.
2012: Lucknow goes for its 16th assembly polls amidst long beeps of EVMs after the great branding by the election commission.

Though Sunday was a remarkable contrast from the polls of the black and white era, the characters that played voters then still retained their charm and energy.

When the ‘evergreen voters’ moved out once again to cast their vote—their enthusiasm belied their age. HT caught up with some senior citizens with the ink mark — those who were first-time voters in the first state assembly elections in 1952.

Visiting polling booths across the city, nonagenarian Swaroop Kumari Bakshi aka Bakshi Didi said, “How could I not exercise my franchise? I have been part of the freedom struggle and I know what it means to cast a vote. I felt its first joy in 1952.” While the first-time voters were enthusiastically casting their votes, Bakshi Didi was busy distributing biscuits to the staff on poll duty.

The energy was no less in octogenarian Bhaiyyaji. A resident of Narhi and an active participant in the freedom movement, he remained busy visiting and revisiting the polling booths in the area. Recalling his first vote, he said, “The enthusiasm then was incomparable. There were lesser formalities. However, the same enthusiasm is back among the young voters this year.” 

Not voting is simply a sin for these senior citizens. In addition to being the first ones in the queue at their polling stations concerned, the active seniors inspired others to cast their vote.

Recalling the polling days of his life, book lover of the city Ram Advani said, “I voted in the first assembly elections and went early in the morning to vote this year too. Things seem to have become more streamlined with better law and order now. I have felt the improvement over the years.”

Padma Shree Raj Bisaria said, “I wasn’t 18 in 1952. But I recall the euphoria when I cast my first vote in the next elections. The voters were required to put a tick mark next to the candidate’s name. There weren’t any provisions of stamp and voting machines then.”