Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat which will go to the polls in November and December will have several interesting features.
The Election Commission will be setting up once again a polling station in Hikkam village in Lahaul-Spiti constituency of Himachal Pradesh, and this station, located at an altitude of 15,000 feet above the mean sea level, is the highest in the world. There are 333 voters in the booth.
Bharatdas Darshandas, 55, belonging to Banej village deep in the Gir forest in Junagadh, will be the privileged voter again as the Commission is setting up a booth solely for him in Una Assembly constituency. Darshandas is a temple priest. If the booth is not set up he will have to travel 20 km to cast his vote.
The voter, not afraid of lions of the sanctuary, has been there for the last 10 years and has voted in the 2007 and 2009 polls too. “Every time two policemen and four-five election officials come here. I go there and cast my vote,” he told journalists during the 2009 Lok Sabha poll.
The poll in Himachal will also provide another opportunity for one of independent India’s first voters, 95-year-old Shyam Saran of Kalpa village of Kinnaur district, a retired school teacher, to exercise his franchise. He voted in the first poll held by the Election Commission in 1951.
Though the first general election to the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies were held in 1952, in Kinnaur Assembly constituency it was held much earlier on October 23, 1951 in view of the area getting heavy snowfall during peak winter.
Mr. Saran was a bachelor then and has cast his vote in all elections, but one, since then.