At a time when questions are being raised on the impartiality of the Election Commission during the Lok Sabha elections 2019, here’s a look back at the life and times of the man behind India’s electoral reforms. Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan who served as the Chief Election Commissioner (1990-96) is credited to have cleaned up India’s election process.
A 1955 IAS officer who served as the Cabinet Secretary, Seshan was appointed the 10th CEC during Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar’s tenure. His role was instrumental in the enforcement of the model code of conduct during polls. Incidents of violence & booth capturing were an all-time low in his tenure. It later came to be called as the ‘Seshan effect’.
A man who once famously declared that “he ate politicians for breakfast”, Seshan had frequent run ins with many leaders including then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. But he remained committed to maintain a level playing field during the elections.
Seshan was awared with Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1996. He even contested the Presidential elections but lost to K.R. Narayanan. He is now retired and lives in Chennai.