SHIMLA: India's first voter Shyam Saran Negi, who died on Saturday morning at his residence in Himachal Pradesh's Kinnaur. He was 106.
On November 2, Negi had cast his vote for the state's Assembly polls through postal ballot, the Election Commission said.
Expressing his condolences at a poll rally in Mandi district's Sundarnagar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "I learnt about the death of Shyam Saran Negi when I was leaving from New Delhi in the morning. The 106-year-old had voted more than 30 times in his life.
"Just a few days ago, Negi had cast his vote through postal ballot for the Himachal Pradesh polls. Even before his demise, he discharged his duty," Modi said, adding Negi's outlook towards democracy will inspire the country's youth.
"With a heavy heart, I bow my head to pay homage and express my deepest condolences to his kin," the prime minister said.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur also took to Twitter to condole the death. "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 2 though postal ballot. This thought will always make me emotional," he said.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer Maneesh Garg said Negi was also the brand ambassador for the Election Commission.
An EC spokesperson called him as a "man with exceptional faith in democracy".
"He inspired millions to vote, even before his demise, he voted for Himachal Pradesh Assembly Elections 2022 through postal ballot on November 2, 2022," the poll panel said on Twitter.
The BJP and Congress, too, condoled Negi's death.
"The BJP expresses deep sadness and condolences on the demise of independent India's first voter Shyam Saran Negi. May God grant peace to the departed soul," the party said on its Twitter handle.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi wrote, "The demise of India's first voter Shyam Saran Negi is a sad news. He has seen the country take its first breath in a free sky and held on to the strings of democracy till his last breath. Negi will always remind us of our obligation towards the nation."
Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge, too, said he was pained to hear the news.
"The best example of his unwavering devotion towards democracy is that he cast his vote for the 34th time on November 2. My condolences to the departed soul," Kharge said in a tweet in Hindi.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said Negi gave a unique example of his duty towards democracy by voting in every election.
"His conscientious will always inspire us," she said....