First voter of Independent India – Shyam Saran Negi – passed away at the age of 106 at his residence at Kalpa in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh on November 5, 2022. Voting for the first time in 1952, he has never missed to cast his votes. It was on November 2 that he exercised his franchise for the last time for the 2022 Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections.
HOW NEGI BECAME THE FIRST VOTER
When the first general elections were announced, it was decided to hold voting in Kinnaur on October 25, 1951 considering the harsh winter and early snowfall while in other parts of the country elections were held in January-February, 1952. Negi, then 34 years old, cast his vote at Kalpa and became the first voter in free India. At that time Mandi parliamentary constituency was known as Mandi-Mahasu parliamentary constituency.
NEGI’S LAST VOTE
The Election Commission officials said that since 1951 till 2021 by-elections of the Mandi parliamentary seat, Negi had never missed a chance to vote by going to the polling booth of his village. For the November 2 elections also, Negi wished for walking to the polling station to cast his vote. Considering his health, the election officials had asked him if he wanted to cast his vote at his home. But he told the officials of going to the polling station. However, he got ill suddenly and informed the Election Commission about his decision to cast his vote at his residence at Kalpa.
On November 2, Kinnaur district administration had given him red carpet welcome at his residence to poll his vote. Amid the sounds of traditional Kinnauri drum beats, Negi had cast his vote in the presence of the entire administration. After he put his postal ballot in the box, Kinnaur Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Electoral Officer Abid Hussain Sadiq honoured him with a bouquet, traditional Kinnauri cap and muffler.
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi in tweet congratulated Negi; “This is commendable and should serve as an inspiration for the younger voters to take part in the elections and strengthen our democracy” https://t.co/J4LvuNo92x
NEGI’S LAST MESSAGE
In his last message, Negi had motivated the youth to vote by telling them about the value of every single vote. He had said that after lot of efforts country got freedom from slavery and every election is like a religious festival so people should vote religiously so that good people are elected.
In 2010 that, then Chief Election Commissioner of India Navin Chawla visited Kalpa village and felicitated Negi. In 2014, Himachal Pradesh State Election Commission appointed him as the brand ambassador to create awareness among young voters. Negi became known across the country after Google created a video of him for its #PledgeToVote campaign during 2014 parliamentary elections. After the Google video went viral, Negi became a household name as he was shown narrating the story of October 25, 1951 when he had stepped outside to walk towards the polling station despite heavy snowfall.
He was born in July 1917. He had retired as a school teacher in 1975.