Independent India's first voter dies at 106 in Himachal's Kinnaur
Independent India's first voter Shyam Saran Negi breathed his last on Saturday morning at the age of 106. Negi, a native of Kalpa, Kinnaur, in Himachal Pradesh, reportedly died three days after he cast a postal ballot on Wednesday (November 2) for the upcoming Assembly elections. The state is going to polls on November 12, as notified by the Election Commission of India.
Why does this story matter?
- Negi is considered a forerunner of India's electoral process that came into force it gained independence from the British in 1947.
- He first voted in 1951, as Himachal Pradesh, given its weather conditions, voted early in the 1951-52 general election, the first for independent India.
- The election marked the basis of the democratic structure of India, which is now the world's largest democracy.
'Was not keeping well for sometime'
The 106-year-old had not been keeping well for some time and had become weak, reports said. As quoted by India Today, Kinnaur District Collector Abid Hussain said, "The district administration is making arrangements for his funeral to bid him adieu honorably." The last time his appearance was captured by the media was when he registered his ballot vote on Wednesday.
'A teacher and the first voter'
In October 1951, Negi was working as a school teacher in Himachal Pradesh when the state went for early polls in independent India. The then 34-year-old Negi got a chance to record the first vote in the country by voting on October 25 that year. The remaining parts of the country later went to polls in 1951 in the months of February and March.
First general election conducted in 1951-52
The country's first general election was conducted in 1951-52 under the Indian Constitution adopted on November 26, 1949. Of the total 360cr eligible voters, nearly 17.3cr participated in the voting process to elect 489 representatives to the Lok Sabha. The voter turnout was reportedly 45.7%. Congress enjoyed a landslide victory in the elections and won 364 seats, receiving 45% of the total votes polled.
Himachal going to polls this month
Meanwhile, the Himalayan state is set to go to polls on November 12 to elect 68 Assembly members. As per the election schedule, the counting of the votes will be done on December 8. In the 2017 Assembly elections, the current ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured 45 seats. Congress obtained 22 seats, while the Communist Party of India (Marxist) won only one seat.