India’s first voter, Shyam Saran Negi, died on Saturday, November 5, at his residence in Kalpa in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Negi was a retired school teacher and his death comes as a sad day for the Indian democracy, the largest of its kind in the world.
Negi died at the age of 106 and is set to be cremated with full state honours. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur condoled his death with a tweet that read, “I am pained to learn about the passing away of India’s first voter Shyam Saran Negi. Adhering to his duty, he cast his vote for the 34th time on November 3 though postal ballot. This thought will always make me emotional.”
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Shyam Saran Negi was born on July 1, 1917, at the pinnacle of the first World War. He was 24 years old when he cast the first vote in Independent India’s first general election in 1951. The brand ambassador of the Election Commission of India, Negi continued to cast his vote in all elections during his lifetime, even in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly election two days before his death on November 3.
However, while the majority of the polling in the 1951-52 general election happened in February 1952, Shyam Saran Negi cast his vote five months before, on October 25, 1951, becoming Independent India’s first voter.
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The reason behind the early voting of Negi and the rest of Himachal Pradesh was the weather, which is unpredictable in the region in February and March every year. A part of the Himalayan ranges, Himachal Pradesh and neighbouring states witness heavy snowfall in these months, which made it impossible at that time for residents to reach polling stations to cast their votes.
Till his death on Saturday, November 5, Negi was also India’s oldest voter alive and was felicitated by Kinnaur Deputy Commissioner Abid Hussian Sadiq after the state Assembly elections a few days ago.