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Ians

Shyam Saran Negi, believed to be India's oldest voter at 104 years of age, cast his ballot on Saturday in the Mandi Parliamentary by-poll in Himachal Pradesh.

Negi had also participated in the 1951-52 general elections, the country's first.

"In my lifetime I have never missed an opportunity to cast my vote since India got its Independence in 1947 and I am happy to vote this time too," Negi said in Kalpa, some 275 kms from the state capital, after exercising his franchise.

Like on previous occasions, the centenarian requested the young voters to actively participate in the democratic exercise to get their representatives at the helm.

Negi was accorded a red carpet welcome as he reached the polling station by officials at Kalpa in Kinnaur district to cast his vote.

A staunch believer in democracy, the centenarian never fails to cast his vote in any election, be it Lok Sabha, Assembly or panchayat.

In 1951, Negi, a retired school teacher, was on election duty and had exercised his franchise in Chini constituency, later renamed Kinnaur.

Back then, voting in the snow-bound areas of the mountain state was held ahead of other places in the country.

Negi came to the polling station along with his family members. He flashed his inked wrinkled finger after voting.

Meanwhile,  a voter turnout of over 33 per cent was recorded in the bypoll to the Mandi Lok Sabha seat in Himachal Pradesh, while 39.24 to 48.19 per cent voting was registered in the Arki, Fatehpur and Jubbal-Kotkhai Assembly seats in the first six hours of polling on Saturday, an election official said.

Voting is underway in a peaceful manner in pleasant weather conditions, he added.

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