India takes its general election very seriously. There are 900 million eligible voters in the country and officials want to make sure that all of them get proper access to a voting station to make their voices heard in the world’s largest election — even the most far-flung residents. That’s why officials traveled 45 miles through the jungle to set up a special polling station deep in the Gir National Park and wildlife sanctuary in the state of Gujarat, so Bharatdas Darshandas, a 69-year-old holy man, could cast his vote.
Darshandas has lived in a remote forest temple for 20 years, and hasn’t missed a single election since 2002. He looks after the Shiva temple inside the wildlife sanctuary, which is home to the last remaining Asiatic lions.
While it’s not uncommon for election officials to travel in order to set up polling stations for voters in remote locations, such a trip for a single voter is unheard of. And clearly, Darshanas is appreciative. “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,” he said.
The 2019 general election is so significant that, a few days ago, one voter who mistakenly voted for the wrong party, chopped off his index finger. In India, voters don’t get stickers upon casting their ballot and have their index finger marked by a line of purple ink instead.