NATIONAL

Centenarian awaits D-day

Lakshmana Dora at his village of Vaddivalasa.

Lakshmana Dora at his village of Vaddivalasa.   | Photo Credit: Photo: K.R. Deepak

V. Chalapathi Rao
Vizianagaram

At 108, Chodipalli Lakshmana Dora, who says he has voted in every election since 1951, still retains his keenness to cast his ballot

OFFTRACK

At 108, Chodipalli Lakshmana Dora must be one of the oldest voters in the country. He says he has never missed an election in the past, making him one of the few who have cast their ballot in every election since 1951.

“If one doesn’t avail of his right to vote he/she is considered dead in government records,” says the centenarian, who lives in Vaddivalasa, a hamlet of Thunda panchayat in Salur mandal.

“I don’t mind riding pillion on a bicycle, if one really wants to carry me to the polling station. I can even walk up to cast my vote at the Thanda (tribal hamlet) where the polling station is set up, 2 km away from my home,” he says. How many days to D-day, he suddenly asks. And then answers it on his own, “On Thursday, isn’t it?” Wrinkled and bent over with age, Dora, who never married, is a Jatapu tribal, the second among three brothers. His siblings died long ago.

When this correspondent visited him, Dora was sitting on a plastic chair under a low tiled roof. He covered himself with a small piece of cloth and used a long stick stood by his side for support. A half-smoked cheroot was tucked above his left ear. Unshaven for months, Dora says he was born in 1901 and studied up to the third standard. He has no proof of his age. His name was included in the ration card belonging to one of his nephews on whom he depends.

He lost his eyesight at an early age, a disability he attributes to witchcraft. No ophthalmologist in Visakhapatnam could diagnose what the problem was, he rues. Dora cannot remember many details about his past, but says he eked out his living as a cowherd. Asked whether he received a pension, he says: “I am paid only Rs.190 per month out of Rs.200 sanctioned as old age pension. Actually, being blind, I must be paid Rs.500 on par with other physically challenged persons.”

He lives among 30 families in a row of houses, some of them with thatched roofs, on land that belongs to his nephew Chodipalli Peda Raja Rao. Raja Rao says they originally lived at Jodi Mamidi, a nearby hamlet, before moving to Vaddivalasa.



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