Elections 2014: Never-say-die doctor to make vote debut at 60

Apr 13, 2014, 08:14 IST | Hemal Ashar

Most people become voters at 18. But Dr Chhankang Shu, a Mumbai-based dentist will finally make his voting debut in this election on April 24 — a day after he turns 60. He says he tried enlisting his name for the past several years, without success, but never gave up

This is one cavity that dentist Dr Chhankang Shu is keen to fill in. One day after he turns 60, the Powai-based doctor, will cast his vote for the very first time in the aLok Sabha elections on April 24. With that, the gap in his life is all set to be filled and Dr Shu is excited about going to the polls as the world’s largest democracy participates in what people often label, ‘the greatest franchise show on earth’.

Shu whew: Got it at last, says an elated Dr Chhankang Shu, showing off his card. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

The fact that most dot debutantes or first time voters will be a little over 18, which is the official age to vote, and Dr Shu is decades older has left the spirited dentist unfazed. He says, “There are a number of reasons why I have not voted till now.” Shu explained, “I was born and brought up in the Jalna district in Aurangabad. I remember there was a local, municipal election at the time when I was five years old. My mother was busy cooking and caught up with household chores when volunteers of a political party came home. Seeing she was busy, they coaxed her out of the home to vote and I went along.

We were taken in a tonga to the voting booth. They spoke to us on the journey asking my mom to vote for their political party. But soon after she voted and came out, they promptly forgot about us, and did not even talk to us, as if we were simply not there. That left a deep impression on me. I realised just how ‘matlabi’ politicians are. I was disillusioned, and this stayed with me through the years.”

Many address changes
Years passed and the boy from Jalna became a man in Mumbai moving to the city for studies and work. “I came to Mumbai in 1971, then I was caught up with studying, work and family. I changed address within the city quite frequently, so I was not enrolled in any voting list. In 2006, I shifted to Powai, where I currently live and from 2006 to 2013, I tried to enroll many times. I also went to a seminar in Vidyavihar for voting cards a couple of years ago. The officers were so rude there. They also made me go through a thick register to locate  my name, which I could not find.”

The Eureka moment
Disheartened with the attitude, Dr Shu returned home, wondering what it would take to get on to the voters’ list. He  adds, “Then, a year ago, I heard of another seminar, where they were enrolling people on the voters’ list. I attended and to my joy, soon after, I got my name on the list, it showed up on the App on my phone,” Now, Dr Shu admits that he is, “excited that I will be able to cast my vote.” When asked about all these years of missing out, the adventure sports buff says, “Initially, I was young and perhaps foolishly held on to the they-are-opportunists belief about politicians. But now I realise it is not about them but about one vote that could change our destiny. And that vote may be mine. I must vote.”

Age is a number
The doctor, who has a clinic at Saki Naka, says, “At 60, I may become the butt of ridicule if I tell people I am ready to cast my first vote ever. Yet, I am a never-give-up, never-think-you-are-too-old kind of person, and that philosophy extends to other aspects of my life too.”

Just three years ago, Dr Shu took up marathon running, completing the brutal 42-km distance in 2013 and has done nine 21-km races. He  says, “We should not be like government servants who retire at the age of 60.” For Dr Shu, who has more salt than pepper in his hair, age is obviously just a number and you’re never too old to have new goals — which includes a trip to the polls.

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