Independent India’s first voter Shyam Saran Negi dies

Independent India’s first voter Shyam Saran Negi passed away at the age of 106 early Saturday morning. Negi was a resident of Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur, who cast his postal ballot on November 2 for the upcoming Himachal Pradesh assembly elections. As per reports, the 106-year-old was unwell at the time. District Collector, Kinnaur Abid Hussain has said that the district administration is making arrangements for his funeral and also a band is being arranged to bid him adieu honourably.

Born on July 1, 1917, Negi worked as a schoolteacher in Kalpa. When India held its first general elections in 1951 after the end of British rule in 1947, Negi was the first one to cast his vote on October 25. Although most of the polling for that first election took place in February 1952, Himachal went to the polls five months early as the weather there tends to be inclement in February and March and heavy snowfall during that period would have made it impossible for citizens to reach the polling stations. Shyam Saran Negi also made a special appearance in the Hindi film Sanam Re.

First Elections After India’s Independence

General elections were held in India between 25 October 1951 and 21 February 1952. They were the first elections to the Lok Sabha after independence in August 1947. It was conducted under the provisions of the Indian Constitution, which was adopted on 26 November 1949. Elections to most of the state legislatures took place simultaneously.

A total of 1,949 candidates competed for 489 seats in the Lok Sabha. More than 173 million people out of an overall population of about 360 million were eligible to vote, making it the largest election conducted at the time. Voter turnout was 45.7%.

The Indian National Congress (INC) won a landslide victory, winning 364 of the 489 seats and 45% of the total votes polled. This was over four times as many votes as the second-largest party. Jawaharlal Nehru became the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the country.

A total of 53 parties and 533 independents contested the 489 seats in the election. Two former cabinet colleagues of Nehru established separate political parties to challenge the INC’s supremacy. While Syama Prasad Mukherjee went on to found the Jana Sangh in October 1951, first Law Minister B. R. Ambedkar revived the Scheduled Castes Federation (which was later named the Republican Party).

Other parties which started coming to the forefront included the Kisan Mazdoor Praja Parishad, whose prime mover was Acharya Kripalani; the Socialist Party, which had Ram Manohar Lohia and Jayaprakash Narayan’s leadership to boast of; and the Communist Party of India. However, these smaller parties were unable to make an electoral stand against the Indian National Congress.

The speaker of the first Lok Sabha was Ganesh Vasudev Mavalankar. The first Lok Sabha also witnessed 677 sittings (3,784 hours), the highest recorded count of the number of sitting hours. The Lok Sabha lasted its full term from 17 April 1952 until 4 April 1957.