Himachal bypoll: India’s first voter, Shyam Saran Negi, casts vote in Kinnaur

The first voter of independent India, 104-year-old Shyam Saran Negi, cast his vote in the Mandi parliamentary bypoll at the model polling station of Kalpa in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh on Saturday.

Bypolls to the Mandi Lok Sabha seat and the three Assembly segments of Fatehpur, Arki and Jubbal-Kotkhai were conducted in Himachal Pradesh on Saturday.

Kinnaur Deputy Commissioner Apoorv Devgan greeted Negi outside the polling station. A red carpet was laid by the district administration to welcome Negi, who first exercised his franchise in 1951. Traditional musical instruments were also played on the occasion.

Negi said everyone should vote for the development of the country and for electing a clean government.

A retired school teacher, Negi was born on July 1, 1917, according to his official records.

India’s first general election was held in February 1952, but the voting for the remote, tribal areas of Himachal Pradesh was held five months in advance in October, 1951, owing to fears of inclement weather rendering the exercise impossible during winter, officials said.

Negi was a school teacher then and was put on election duty, due to which he reached his polling booth at the Kalpa Primary School in Kinnaur at 7 am and was the first person to cast his vote.

Negi, who has also made a special appearance in Hindi film “Sanam Re”, never missed casting his vote since then whether it is a panchayat, Assembly or Lok Sabha election.

A close electoral contest is expected in Mandi between Kargil war hero Brigadier Khushal Singh Thakur of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress candidate Pratibha Singh, the wife of late chief minister Virbhadra Singh.

Six candidates, including Ambika Shyam of the Rashtriya Lokniti Party, Munshi Ram Thakur of the Himachal Jankranti Party and independents Anil Kumar and Subhash Mohan Snehi, are in the fray in Mandi.

The counting of votes for the Mandi Lok Sabha seat and the three Assembly seats will be taken up on November 2.



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