100-plus in Delhi and eager to vote!
Kalitara Mandal, 104, wants to cast her ballot one last time as she says she might not live to see the next general election in the country. Of Delhi's 12 million voters, Mandal is one among 324 voters aged above 100 years.Updated: Apr 07, 2014 17:42 IST
Kalitara Mandal, 104, wants to cast her ballot one last time as she says she might not live to see the next general election in the country. Of Delhi's 12 million voters, Mandal is one among 324 voters aged above 100 years.
And, believe it or not, there are 12 who are just one year short of making it to their 125th birthday.
Born during the British rule, Mandal has seen India unshackling the chains of slavery and becoming independent, and being torn into two with the birth of Pakistan.
"I want to vote this time again. This might be my last election. So much has changed in these years," Mandal said.
Mandal, who migrated from erstwhile East Pakistan to India during the 1971 Bangladesh war, lives in Chittaranjan Park in the New Delhi parliamentary constituency.
Asked who she would vote for, Mandal, attired in a white Bengal cotton saree, simply answered: "Whoever my son asks me to."
Though she has crossed a century, Mandal can still sit straight and talk without rambling. She spoke in Bengali which was translated into Hindi by her grandchildren.
Asked if she knows about BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi or the Congress' Rahul Gandhi, she said with a smile, "No!"
"For us voting meant Indira Gandhi," she added.
According to the Election Commission, out of 324 century-old voters, 163 are women and the rest are men.
West Delhi's Tilak Nagar has 17 voters - the maximum -- aged above 100.
Like Mandal, 104-year-old Mamanchand Agarwal wants to vote too.
"I was a diehard Congress supporter but the excesses of Indira Gandhi in 1975 (Emergency) turned me off. I will vote for BJP this time," Agarwal, who lives at Karala in Northwest Delhi, said.
Agarwal exercised his franchise in the Delhi assembly polls in December last year.
"My father was awarded by the election commission for voting at such an old age," his son, Jagdish Sharan, said.
"I make sure that my father casts his vote every time," he added.
Besides the century-plus voters, there are 10,104 between the age of 90 and 100 in the capital.
"The youngsters must learn from these senior voters. When they can vote at such an old age why can't youngsters," Neeraj Bharti, Additional CEO, Delhi Election Commission, said.
"The seniors will have seamless access at polling stations which will have ramps. If needed, we will provide them wheel chairs too," he added.