Former election commissioner T.N. Seshan, known for strict enforcement of electoral laws and rules for cleaning up Indian elections, passed away on Sunday following a cardiac arrest at his residence here, family sources said. He was eighty-six.
After retiring from December 12, 1990, to December 11, 1996, a 1955 Tamil Nadu IAS officer who rose to become Cabinet Secretary, Seshan became India's 10th Chief Election Commissioner.
Known for strict enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct, Seshan instilled fear in politicians fighting elections by strictly enforcing the Model Code of Conduct and other poll-related laws and taking harsh action against anyone who attempted to violate its provisions.
Named in the district of Palakkad on December 15, 1932, he did his education up to the intermediate level in what is now Kerala. He graduated in physics from Madras Christian College and then joined the IAS. He later taught at Harvard University where he earned his Master of Public Administration degree.
In 1989, he became India's 18th Cabinet Secretary, the highest officer in the Indian civil service hierarchy, and a member of India's Planning Commission, before being appointed to the CEC, where he is best remembered as the person who cleaned up elections in India.
Seshan's reforms focused on eliminating abuses such as "booth-capturing" and voter intimidation, and strict adherence to laws and regulations.
In one event, polling was suspended in a constituency of Madhya Pradesh where a sitting governor campaigned for his brother, ultimately leading to his resignation, whereas in Uttar Pradesh a minister was forced to leave the dais at a rally as the campaign period had just ended.
Also known for conducting regular press conferences, Seshan was eagerly awaiting his one-liners.
In 1996, he was awarded the Magsaysay Public Service Award.
Seshan also challenged the 1997 presidential election but lost to K.R. Narayanan. In the 1999 elections, he also made an election foray, contesting a Gandhinagar Congress seat against BJP stalwart L.K. Advani, however, came runners-up.
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