At 107, Agra village patriarch raring to cast his vote again
When asked about the present-day political leaders, he says, “Nowadays, promises are made, but not fulfilled. In my time, leaders were honest and determined to work for the people. They were easily approachable.”Updated: Apr 14, 2019 12:12 IST
Ram Prasad Sharma is 107. But the former village headman’s age has not dampened his enthusiasm for the biggest festival of democracy. He has voted in 16 polls since the first Lok Sabha election in 1952. And he is raring to exercise his franchise again, even though he is hard of hearing and walks with difficulty.
“My legs are weak, but I will go in my car (up to the distance permitted) along with my sons and cast my vote in the 17th Lok Sabha election,” says Sharma with a child-like twinkle in his eyes. Agra will go to the polls on April 18 in the second phase.
He recalls, “When I went to vote in the first Lok Sabha election in 1952, there was no need for a voter ID card. My name was mentioned on the voter list. On the basis of that, I was allowed to vote.”
Sharma, known as the grand old man of Semra village in Khandoli block of Agra district, is the patriarch of a family of 70 members. His village is 20 kilometres from Agra city.
“There was a pro-Congress wave and a feeling of nationalism was palpable in the first Lok Sabha election,” he reminisces.
“I voted for the Indian National Congress (INC) candidate and he won the election,” he says.
He also brings up his own tryst with electoral politics.
“After the death of my elder brother, who was pradhan of the village, in 1956, I was elected the village head unopposed. I remained the pradhan without contesting anymore elections till 1980,” he says.
“In 1980, one Balbir Singh of the village contested against me, but I won by 233 votes,” he says, visibly delighted to be talking about his success.
“After completing my term in 1985, I opted out of elections and preferred to enjoy myself at home,” says Sharma, who is still addressed as ‘pradhanji’ by many villagers.
Such is his popularity in the village that residents often enquire about his health as he relaxes on a cot in a house in the fields.
When asked about the present-day political leaders, he says, “Nowadays, promises are made, but not fulfilled. In my time, leaders were honest and determined to work for the people. They were easily approachable.”
“But now it is rare to find such politicians,” he says.
His son Satish Kumar Sharma says, “My father has seen all the elections held in independent India. He is in good health, considering his age.”
The son also makes no secret of his father’s love for laddoos and the fact that the centenarian can eat a hearty meal even now.
“He has two besan laddoos for breakfast in summer and two methi laddos in winter,” says Satish.
Little wonder, the poll season has whetted the Semra village patriarch’s appetite for voting again.
Photo Caption: Former village pradhan Ram Prasad Sharma with his son Satish Sharma at his house at Semra village in Etmadpur tehsil of Agra district.