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Man who cast India’s first vote in Himachal’s remote village turns 100 today

Shyam Saran Negi, India’s first voter, has voted 16 times in Lok Sabha polls and 12 times in state assembly elections.

india Updated: Jul 01, 2017 07:42 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times, Shimla
Shyam Saran Negi,India's first voter,Himachal Pradesh
Shyam Saran Negi was the first voter in India.(HT Photo)

A remote village in Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district is gearing up to honour Shyam Saran Negi, independent India’s first voter, when he turns 100 on Saturday.

Negi was the first to cast his vote in the country’s first-ever general elections held in October 1951. In 2010, India’s then election commissioner Navin Chawla travelled to Kinnaur to felicitate Negi and in 2014, he was appointed the brand ambassador by the Himachal Pradesh state election commission to sensitise voters ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

“I still remember the day when I cast my vote for the first time. The country then and now – many things have changed,” Negi told the Hindustan Times over the phone.

He has voted 16 times in Lok Sabha polls and 12 times in state assembly elections, an election commission report stated.

The region of Chini which is within present day Kinnaur district held elections before other parts of the state in 1951, anticipating heavy snowfall in higher altitude areas.

Decades later, Negi, who was born on July 1, 1917, remains a strong advocate of the electoral process, saying everyone must vote to write their own destiny.

The birthday celebrations for Negi have already begun at his home. On Friday, traditional prayers were held at his house in Kalpa. His 96-year-old wife Hiramani participated in the prayers.

“I have called nine lamas (Buddhist monks) from the local monastery to pray for my father’s good health as he doesn’t keep too well now ... He can hardly walk as he has problems in his leg joints,” Chander Prakash, the youngest of Negi’s nine children, told HT. The celebrations will peak on Saturday, relatives said.

First Published: Jul 01, 2017 07:40 IST