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Four election officials, accompanied by a policeman, set up a special polling station deep in the Gir wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat state so a sole voter – Bharatdas Darshandas – could take part in the world’s biggest democratic exercise.

New Delhi, India, April 25, 2019 —

Indian officials travelled nearly 70km (45 miles) through the jungle this week to ensure a 69-year-old holy man got to cast his vote in the Indian general election.

Four election officials, accompanied by a policeman, set up a special polling station deep in the Gir wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat state so a sole voter – Bharatdas Darshandas – could take part in the world’s biggest democratic exercise.

Darshandas, a priest who has lived at his remote forest temple for two decades, has not missed an election since 2002 and cast his vote on Tuesday by walking nearly a kilometre to the special polling station.

Bharatdas Darshandas Is The Priest At A Shiva Temple In Gir Wildlife Sanctuary

Darshandas looks after a Shiva temple in the 350 sq km wildlife sanctuary, home to some 600 of the last remaining Asiatic lions.

India has more than 900m eligible voters who can cast their ballots at a million polling stations. Officials often have to travel for days to get to voters in remote regions. But an arduous trip for just one voter is not common.

“The fact that the government is taking so much effort to ensure the casting of one vote speaks to the importance of each and every vote,” said Darshandas.

Darshandas Advocates 100% Voting Everywhere In India

“Just the way voting is 100% in Banej [where he lives], there should be 100% voting everywhere,” said Darshandas.

The Indian election has seven phases. It began on 11 April and will end on 19 May. Votes will be counted on 23 May.

Sourabh Pardhi, an election official from the area, said the election commission had worked hard to ensure everyone got a chance to vote. “We want to make sure that no voter is left behind,” he said.

(Source: The  Guardian)