There are 2.49 lakh voters aged above 100 in India, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said on Wednesday. Besides, 1.80 crore voters are over 80 years of age, Kumar said after flagging off a bicycle rally in Maharashtra’s Pune city on Wednesday to create an awareness about voter registration as part of the national level launch of a special summary revision of the voters’ list.
The Election Commission of India’s initiative is aimed at increasing the electoral rolls in urban areas. Explaining the robustness and beauty of the Indian electoral rolls, Kumar said the country has voters from the highest peaks of Himalayas, from the 6,000-km coastline in south, deserts in the west and regions from the east.
“You will be happy to know we have close to 2.49 lakh voters in our rolls who are (aged) 100 plus and what a relief and ecstasy it gives when you interact with them and find that they have been voting all through their lives,” he said. Besides, there are 1.80 crore voters who are above 80 years of age, he told reporters after the rally.
The CEC said India’s first voter Shyam Saran Negi, who recently died, was 106 years old and voted through postal ballot just three days before his death. “That is the spirit,” he added. Kumar said the summary revision takes place every year, but this year they are doing a very focused activity and starting it all over the country from Pune with a specific purpose to increase the participation of citizens from urban areas.
“What does it mean? Everywhere in the country and the farthest possible states, be it hills, coastal lines, everywhere, inaccessible terrains, deserts, everywhere every single citizen gets enlisted as a voter and strengthens the democracy by not only getting registered but also casting his/her vote,” the CEC said. Kumar said they want to request all voters in the urban areas, all the youth to come participate, get registered and vote.
“It is only through your voting that the democratic traditions become absolutely robust and strong,” the CEC said.”Some of the cities, I am not naming them, do not really do that kind of voting and there is a whole lot of ground which we have to cover in urban areas, that is why this rally was organised to create awareness,” he said.
Kumar flagged off the bicycle rally at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune’s Balewadi area. He later told reporters that there are some advanced, big metro cities where apathy is seen among the urban voters, but it is expected that these cities should also participate in voting whole-heartedly and help strengthen the democracy.
“The same applies to the youth also. If they can put forth their views on WhatsApp, they can very well put forth their opinion on casting votes,” he said. Kumar said Pune has been chosen for the national launch of the special summary revision of the voters’ list as it is the “city of knowledge” and the message gets spread faster from here. When pointed out that Pune had recorded a low voting percentage, the CEC said, “Yes, there is little apathy.” Notably, in the 2019 general elections, the overall voting percentage for the Pune Lok Sabha constituency was 49.84 per cent.
Kumar said on the day of voting, a holiday is declared as per the Negotiable Instruments Act and some people think “let’s enjoy the holiday instead of going and casting vote”, but they should go and vote as holidays are always there. Kumar said the importance of special summary revision is that if anyone is left and not included as a voter, he or she will be included through this initiative. “Also, young voters who are turning 18 on qualifying dates have a chance to get enrolled,” he added.