Amethi follows tradition: Washerman casts first vote

Late prime minister Indira Gandhi`s son Sanjay Gandhi was the first to contest from Amethi in 1975 and 1977.

Updated: Feb 15, 2012, 14:05 PM IST

Amethi: Better known as the family bastion of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Amethi follows a unique tradition -- polling began at the Ram Nagar Primary School centre on Wednesday only after the local `dhobi` (washerman) cast his vote.
While the polling centre opened at 7 am sharp, everyone waited for 72-year-old Pancham Lal, who is accorded a `VIP` status on all polling days in what was once upon a time a princely state.
His wife Chandra Kala too remains the privileged one to cast her vote just after the husband.

"I have enjoyed this privilege ever since I was entitled to vote many many years ago," Pancham Lal told media persons.

Even Amethi`s erstwhile prince and now Sultanpur Congress MP Sanjay Singh made it a point to give way to the `dhobi`. But of course, Sanjay Singh and his wife Amita Singh remained right behind the washerman to keep up the tradition.

Amethi remains a prestige issue for the Congress, which has held the seat for decades.

Late prime minister Indira Gandhi`s son Sanjay Gandhi was the first to contest from here in 1975 and 1977, followed by his brother Rajiv Gandhi in 1981.

Soon after Rajiv`s death, it was his pilot friend Satish Sharma who held the baton from here, but shortly thereafter, Rajiv`s widow Sonia Gandhi got elected from here. Later, she handed the constituency over to her son Rahul Gandhi in 2002.

IANS