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Veterans flaunt the ink mark

Horil Paswan (from top) waits for his turn; Ishwari Prasad comes out of a booth after casting his vote and Amrica Devi shows her ID card to a polling official in Koderma on Thursday (below). Pictures by Vishvendu Jaipuriar

Koderma, April 10: He never shied away from responsibilities. Even today, as a citizen of the world’s largest democracy, the centenarian braved the heat, ignored age-related ailments and waited in queue to do his bit.

Horil Paswan, who turned 100 in January, is the only man in the area who has voted in almost all elections since Independence.

This morning, accompanied by son Mahesh, Paswan walked up to Rajkiya Prathamik Vidyalaya at Jalondh of Ichak in the Koderma constituency. Like others, he waited for his turn and pressed the button in favour of a candidate, whom his son calls honest.

Maine apni jimmedari ek bar phir nibha di (Once again, I fulfilled my responsibility),” he said coming out of the polling booth.

The veteran voter recalled the days when there were only a few parties.

“We would vote for a candidate on the basis of popularity of the party’s national leaders,” he said. Now, there were so many that one did not even need 50 per cent votes to win.

Paswan is upset that these days people did not take their duties seriously.

Jitni suvidha badhi hai utni hi jayada logo mei jawabdaihi ghati hai (With the increase in facilities, accountability among people has decreased),” the farmer added.

Given Paswan’s poor eyesight and reduced hearing abilities, no wonder he finds it difficult to judge candidates.

“When I was young, I used to vote for the one who was honest and the best for the area,” he said, adding today, he was dependent on his son to make a choice.

Eighty-year-old Ishwari Prasad, a resident of Ichak Bazaar, said he was not interested in criticising the government and using that as an excuse to skip voting.

“A lot has changed since our days. I never got pocket money from my father. But today’s schoolchildren flaunt cell phones,” said the former employee of the state agriculture department.

For Prasad development is not an issue because whoever forms the government will run it with the same pace.

“What matters is the candidate you are voting. He/she should be honest and have the ability to raise the problems at the right forum,” he argued.

Mujhe khushi hai ki ekbar phir maine vote diya, wo bhi apne pasand ke umeedwar ko (I am happy that I voted again and that too for the candidate of my choice),” he added.

Amrica Devi, an 83-year-old woman, also cast her vote at booth no-254 at Rajkiya Madhya Vidyalaya, Hadari. These days, she explained, people voted on caste lines, as opposed to the time when village elders would help them choose the right candidate.

Ab to deshki chinta kam aapne jaat, biradari ki chinta adhik ho gayi hai logo ko (Now, people are more concerned about their caste and community members than the country,” she said.

Amrica felt the earlier days were better. “Us waqt vote zimmedari ki baat hoti thi, lekin ab aisa nahi lagta (Then voting used to be a matter of responsibility, but it is not so any more),” she said.