Lok Sabha elections 2019| Seniors show the way: ‘I live, hence I vote’

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New Delhi: At 9.30 am Sunday, 111-year-old Bachan Singh was escorted by the state election office staff from his home in West Delhi’s Shiv Vihar to the voting centre at Sant Garh in a car, where he exercised his franchise.
Dressed in a white kurta pyjama and a neatly tied white turban, Singh, Delhi’s oldest voter, said he still doesn’t understand why he was being applauded for something he has been doing since 1951. “I have voted for the party that has worked for us. Not voting is not an option,” he said, his speech faint and slurring as media persons surrounded him.
As Singh entered the polling station, a volunteer steered him in a wheelchair into the booth where he cast his vote, assisted by his son.
“He was taken care of very well, just that he was surrounded by so many people that he got claustrophobic and kept asking for water. The station officials could not catch what he was saying and that made him irritable,” said Singh’s grandson, Gurcharan Singh.
Ahead of polling, the state electoral office had identified and touched base with many as 96 voters who were more than 100 years old and offered transport to the polling stations.
To get 110-year-old Rampyari Sankhwar to the polling station at Kondli Village, the returning officer of East Delhi constituency had made arrangements to pick and drop her. “I don’t get any pension. All old people should get pension. For me, another issue is better education for children,” said Sankhwar, accompanied by son Ram Dani Sankhwar.
Not all the elderly were, however, were as lucky as Singh and Sankhwar to get a red carpet welcome. Despite the difficult conditions at many stations, seniors were seen coming to vote in large numbers with family members.
Kanta Rohini, 85, a resident of Dwarka sector 10, dragged herself, supported by her walking stick on the one side and her daughter-in-law on the other. They waited a long time for a wheelchair, but the only one was occupied.
“They closed the front entry and so we had to take a detour through the rutted tiles to reach the polling booth. Her (Rohini’s) walking stick kept getting stuck,” said Anju Agarwal, her daughter-in-law.
Kishan Devi, 67, said though she had “no clear reason” to vote, she had never skipped an election. When asked why she votes, she said, “I live, hence, I vote.”
Many said that for people of “their generation” voting day was not really a holiday but a day to come out, stand in queues and have political arguments with friends and neighbors.

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