This 126-Yr-Old Woman Is the Oldest Voter This Gujarat Election

This 126-Yr-Old Woman Is the Oldest Voter This Gujarat Election

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Meet 126-year-old Chandravadiya Ajiben Sidabhai of Upleta town in Rajkot district – the oldest living person on the planet. She’s ready to cast her vote in the Gujarat assembly election this year. Along with Ajiben is a strong segment of over 4,700 senior citizen voters, all above 90, and ready to exercise their voting rights.

Rajkot district is divided into eight constituencies and has a total of 20,64,759 voters. Among the total population, there are 4,565 citizens between 90-100 years age and 372 over 100 years and more.

Keeping the high numbers of senior citizens in mind, the collector of Rajkot called for a ‘Coffee with Collector’ where these senior citizens were called in as a motivation for others to vote.

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She has been voting for many years now, and 2017 will be no different. Her family members are keen on taking her to the voting booth this time. According to her voter ID card from 2007, her date of birth is 1 January 1891. She says she remembers everything before and after independence. She says she used to work for the king, and understands the importance of democracy.

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Ajiben is the most excited person in her family of 21, living under one roof, when it comes to posing for a picture or going out. Ask Ajiben if she is willing to vote this election, she is quick in responding, “Why not. If someone takes me, I will definitely go and vote.”

On Monday, Ajiben happily travelled a distance of around 105 kilometres from her home town Upleta, in Rajkot district, to Rajkot city in order to participate in ‘Coffee with Collector’.

This is not her first visit to Rajkot. Last month, when Gujarat Chief minister Vijay Rupani conducted a Sabha in Rajkot before filing his nomination from Rajkot west constituency, she was present on the stage to ‘bless’ Rupani after travelling four hours back and forth.

Ajiben has always firmly believed in exercising voting rights. Mother of six daughters and one son, she never had to use a stick for support, or suffered from any major illness. She does not wear glasses even at this age, and loves to go out and dress well.

A midwife in her early years, Ajiben is responsible for delivering over 700 healthy babies, recalls her 68-year-old son Mehramanbhai. “We used to live in Bhanwad village in Jamnagar district. I remember people from around six neighbouring villages would call my mother when it came to child birth. She would have done over 700 deliveries as far as I remember. People say this work can be done by only those who has mataji’s blessings. And my mother is firm believer of Meladi Ma. She never charged a single rupee for the deliveries but asked the families to offer a coconut to the goddess,” he added. The family shifted to Upleta before 19 years.

Ajiben (Seating second from right) with other senior citizens during the event on Monday
Ajiben (Seating second from right) with other senior citizens during the event on Monday
(Photo Courtesy: Masuma Bharmal Jariwala)

“Before her marriage she worked for the Royal family of Porbandar where she cleaned and swept the floors. She talks about Gandhiji, but in what connection is not understood clearly.” Mehramanbhai added.

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Looking at Ajiben, other senior citizens have doubled their courage to become instrumental in asking their family, friends and neighbours to exercise their voting rights.

Rajkot district collector Dr Vikrant Pandey said, “The purpose behind organising a programme with the senior citizens was they can become instrumental in strengthening election awareness by asking their family members and neighbours to exercise their voting rights. They also shared their experiences on how they voted in past and about the new system.”

Video Editor: Vivek Gupta

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