[Himachal GK] First and Oldest Voter of India - Shyam Saran Negi

Meet Shyam Saran Negi, independent India's first and oldest voter.

Did you know that the country's first polling station for the first general elections ever, was set up at Kalpa in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh? Consequently the first Indian community which exercised the right to franchise were Kinnars (also known as Kinnauras, a scheduled tribe in Himachal Pradesh).

There was a demographic reason attached to this fact. As these areas of Himachal Pradesh are snow bound it was decided to hold polls in advance here on October 25, 1951.
However, for the Election Commission it was a logistic nightmare to initiate the country's first poll from a village located at a 9711 feet, where the ballot boxes were carried on mules. The people had voted for Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, the Indian National Congress candidate for the Mandi-Mahasu parliamentary constituency. It was a double seat constituency and Rajkumari Amrit Kaur alongwith Gopi Ram of the Congress won the election.
"The then Kalpa village was known as Chini village and was part of the Bushahar princely estate ruled by the forefathers of former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. Independent India's first polling booth was set up inside the primary school building of Chini village under the Chini assembly constituency which was later renamed Kinnaur Vidhan Sabha constituency," recalls Shyam Saran Negi (95), the country's oldest and first voter. He does not wear glasses but is hard of hearing. He has voted 15 times for the Lok Sabha and 11 times for Vidhan Sabha elections.

Shyam Saran Negi On October 25, 1951 Negi became the first Indian to cast his ballot in the country's first ever elections. "I will walk to the polling station," says Shyam Saran Negi, who retired as government primary school teacher in 1975. He has fathered 10 children. Four of his sons and five daughters are married, while one son is dead. One of his son's is a bank manager and his daughter-in-law Uma Devi is president of Kalpa Panchyat.

Hikkam polling station
The Hikkam polling station is in Lahual Spiti, one of the most desolate and hard terrains in India. Another interesting fact about Himachal Pradesh is that country's highest polling station is also located here. The name of the polling station is Hikkam, situtated at 15000 ft above sea level in Lahaul and Spiti district. This polling station is connected by a motorable road and will serve 333 voters out of which 153 are women and 180 men.


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