As the Delhi elections happened with immense enthusiasm, where, on one side, our youth and celebrities showcased their inked fingers and urged Delhi to vote, on the other side, 111-year-old Ms Kalitara Mandal also approached, voted and got her finger inked. In an interview with PTI, Ms Mandal emphasized the importance of citizen rights and responsibilities in India and said, “Go out and vote. Democracy thrives on people and people must participate as each vote counts”. Even though her teeth have shed and she needs support to walk, Ms.Mandal has taken part in almost all the elections since she settled in C.R. Park of Delhi after the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971.
Born in undivided India in 1908, Ms Mandal has witnessed the country undergo several fissures and turbulent changes. She was born three years after the Partition of Bengal in 1905 in Barisal (now in Bangladesh) which riled up the nation. Later in 1971, when India was at war with Pakistan, she migrated to India from East Pakistan and lived as a refugee with her family in Andhra Pradesh. As the communal disturbance seemed under control, they returned, only to come back again after some time. She again had to sneak with her family in India and live as refugee camps at Madhya Pradesh. After the war, Bangladesh and C.R. Park in Delhi came into existence giving her the citizenship in India after having lived twice as a refugee.
Ms Mandal said in the interview that she has rarely missed an election since she got home in Delhi. She recalled the time when voting was done ballot boxes. “Yes, I remember, they (polling officials) would take my thumb impression and then the ballot paper would be folded and put into boxes. I have voted with big machines (EVMs) too,” she said.
Ms Mandal, who is Delhi’s oldest voter in 2020 assembly elections, added, “I am happy to vote in this election. I don’t remember how many times I have voted till now, but as a responsible citizen, we must vote. I urge other citizens to also come out and vote.”
Ms Mandal is the eldest in the four-generation of her family residing in C.R. Park. The youngest of the family is her grandson who was born after the 2019 Lok Sabha Election. Jiyansh is seven-months-old now. Her family is certainly proud to have an elderly who upholds her rights as a citizen. “She is quite eager to take part in the elections as a voter. Last year too she voted in the Lok Sabha polls… This time also she is eager to get her finger inked,” said her son Sukh Ranjan in an interview. To exercise the postal ballot facility at her home, Ms Mandal had applied her candidature. However, she was late in submitting the application. But, the poll officials decided to send a special vehicle for her and her family in C.R. Park to avoid any obstruction in voting. Ms Mandal approached the polling station on a wheelchair with her family and cast her vote. With happiness and contentment on her face, she raised her inked finger and posed for a photograph.
Ms Mandal was one of the 132 centenarian voters who got inked at the Polling station in Delhi assembly elections yesterday. Out of them, 68 were male and 64 were female voters.