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Meet Himachal’s Shyam Saran Negi – at 106 he is set to vote again

Independent India's first voter Shyam Saran Negi of Himachal Pradesh

Independent India’s first voter Shyam Saran Negi,106 is all set to vote in the upcoming state assembly elections.

“I have never missed any election— Parliament, State assembly and also Panchayats in my life.It I am alive ,I never fail to cast my vote at the polling booth” he declared at Kalpa,his native village in Kinnaur district.

Kinnaur Deputy Commissioner Abid Hussain Sadiq on Friday met Negi at his residence to know his well-being and also he needs voting arrangements to be done for postal ballots,as allowed to senior citizens.

“Negi proudly declared, he will travel to the polling booth to cast his vote though will need a bit of logistics for his travel upto the booth. I found him highly motivated and in best of his health, rather better than last time I had met him before the elections” Sadiq said.

Sadiq, who is also district election officer, also held an interaction of first-time voters with Negi. There were few young voters, who were recently enrolled in the voters’ list for the after completion of their 18 years age.

The first voter of the country explained the importance of voting to the youth. Voting is very important for a strong democracy. Negi urged all the voters of the state to exercise their vote as he, despite his age, will be going to the booth.

The Deputy Commissioner said that Shyam Saran is not only the icon of Kinnaur, Himachal but also of the country. The youth should take inspiration from him. Must vote.

Negi will play an important role in making voters aware in the assembly elections as he got an appeal also recorded from Negi. “We will use it as our publicity medium in the entire state.People will be inspired to vote on his call,” he hoped.

Shyam Saran Negi1
Shyam Saran Negi

It was in October 1951 — when polling was held for the first time in Independent India, Negi became the first voter to cast his vote. Since then, he had not missed a single election – whether Lok Sabha, state assembly or panchayat to exercise his democratic right.

Last time he voted in the bypoll for the Mandi Parliamentary seat in November 2022.

Negi has been ECI’s brand ambassador to promote voter awareness campaigns. Some years back Google also made a special film on Negi’s life and his strong motivational level to strengthen the democracy by exercising his voting right, braving snow and extreme cold in the high altitude Kalpa valley of Kinnaur–a district bordering Tibet region.

Negi was also honoured by the Chief Election Commissioner of India Navin Chawla  ,who visited his village in 2010.

For years, this ex-school teacher had lived in oblivion, till a former IAS officer and then Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Manisha Nanda had located Negi after a detailed search on him in 2007.

“It took a lot of hardships to trace Negi, who lived in a small village at Kalpa . It was the time when photo Voters’ I-cards were being prepared .I saw a tiny photo of Negi ji and started my research as to who could be the oldest surviving voter or having voted in the first election of independent India.I was aptly helped by then Deputy Commissioner (Kinnaur ) to Sudha Devi authenticate his identity and also fish-out old voting records,“ recalls Nanda ,who retired as Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue)and also served as Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.

Kalpa was then known as “Chinni” village. He had first voted on  October 25,1951 .