Maharashtra Polls: Good Samaritan ferries senior citizens to polling booths

Sheetal Praveen Badhe provided the pick up and drop service to senior citizens in and around Mandai, helping several to get to the polling booths

The sight of Mandai resident, Sheetal Praveen Badhe making rounds in the area in her car brings great relief and joy to the hundreds of senior citizens living there.

Sheetal Badhe

For, Badhe provides a free-of-charge pick up and drop service to the elderly residents in Mandai and nearby areas, taking them from their homes to the polling booths and back. Many of them are considerably aged, and would have been unable to make their way to the polling stations had it not been for her.

Badhe, a housewife with two children, lives with her in-laws in one of the wadas scattered throughout the area, with a considerable population of senior citizens. She provided the same service during the Lok Sabha elections as well. “There are several senior citizens at my area, and I can’t accept that they are sitting at home on such an important day, as voting is their right too,” she said.

Yesterday, she began making rounds as soon as polling booths opened, and said she would stop the service once voting was over. By 10 am, she had already completed three trips, with four senior citizens each, and was heading out for the fourth. “I don’t count the number of trips, but during Lok Sabha elections, I must have made at least 30 rounds,” she said.

One of her elderly passengers, Pandurang Babanrao (78) said, “There are several senior citizens in this area, and all of us desperately wish to vote. We think physical infirmity should not be a hurdle. Sheetal’s initiative has helped us to exercise our right to vote even at this age.”

Another passenger, Umaji Eknath Kedare (85) said, “I could vote only because of this pick up and drop service, otherwise I am not even able to walk, and wouldn’t have made the effort to go to the polling booth. I thank Sheetal for this service. During the Lok Sabha elections as well, I could cast my vote thanks to her.”

Badhe found ample cooperation from the police and election officials, who even allowed access for her vehicle in the polling premises.

“The police cooperated with us and I could take my vehicle inside the polling centre only because of their permission,” she said.

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