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When Seshan snatched the biscuit from Rajiv Gandhi’s mouth, saying that he eats politicians for breakfast, the Prime Minister and Chief Minister got into trouble with everyone.

New Delhi: On December 2, 1989, the very next day after Vishwanath Pratap Singh became Prime Minister, a meeting was called to consider whether former PM Rajiv Gandhi and his family should be given SPG protection or not. TN Seshan, who was then Cabinet Secretary, advised that Rajiv Gandhi should be given SPG category security. But, VP Singh government did not provide security to Rajiv Gandhi. With this, Seshan was made a member of the Planning Commission instead of Cabinet Secretary. When VP Singh’s government fell in 1990, Chandrashekhar, who became the new PM, sent him a proposal to become the Chief Election Commissioner. With this a new chapter of electoral reforms was written in the country.

He became the Chief Election Commissioner after asking Shankaracharya of Kanchi.

When TN Seshan got the offer of Chief Election Commissioner, he did not immediately take it up. He took advice in this regard from former PM Rajiv Gandhi, former President R Venkatraman and Shankaracharya of Kanchi. All three gave their consent. Shankaracharya said that this is an honorable post. It should be taken.

TN Seshan did not bow before any leader or PM-CM while being the Chief Election Commissioner.

Rajiv Gandhi was happy and made him the security secretary.

TN Seshan was Secretary in the Environment Ministry before becoming the Election Commissioner. Pleased with his work, the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi made him the Security Secretary. He became more like a security expert than a security secretary. Once he pulled a biscuit from Rajiv Gandhi’s mouth saying that the Prime Minister should not eat anything which has not been tested beforehand.

TN Sheshan and Rajeev Gandhi

TN Seshan was close to Rajiv Gandhi. He used to take personal decisions with her advice

When Seshan said- I am not under the purview of Government of India

Seshan had issued a 17-page order on August 2, 1993. In which he had said that until the government does not recognize the powers of the Election Commission, no elections will be conducted in the country. The government finally had to bow down to this demand. He said that before me, the Chief Election Commissioner had to sit outside the office of the Law Minister and wait for a meeting. During his time, be it Prime Minister Narasimha Rao or Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, he messed with everyone.

Sheshan and Election

Seshan did important work on electoral reforms which is relevant today

When there was a ban on making fake voter ID in elections

Seshan was largely successful in stopping booth capturing and ballot paper looting. He banned making fake voter IDs. For this, get a photo identity card issued. Started issuing ID only to those who fulfilled the eligibility criteria. Worked to make the machinery of the Election Commission autonomous. This was done to stop activities like bribery, distribution of liquor, luring of voters etc. Fixed limit on candidates’ expenses. It is mandatory to obtain prior written permission for campaigning through loudspeakers.

The government had opposed photo identity

When Seshan started conducting elections through photo identity cards, the then government was against it. Then Seshan threatened to stop the elections under Rule 37 of the Representation of the People’s Act. Eventually the court resolved the matter and photo identity cards started being issued.


Transfer of officers due to negligence

Today, the Election Commission transfers officers for the slightest negligence while organizing elections. This tradition was also brought by Tina Seshan. During his time, senior police officers to administrative officers were transferred for negligence or against conduct.

navbharat timesHow the vote percentage increased after voting, Election Commission told the Supreme Court

Status of Election Commission told to leaders

TN Seshan brought out the power of the Election Commission. Those who used to take the Commission as taken for granted, were made aware of the power of the Commission. Even strong and powerful leaders started getting scared of him. Seshan used to say jokingly that ‘I eat politicians for breakfast’. It was Seshan who had suggested that the Chief Justice of the country should also be in the appointment committee of the Chief Election Commissioner, so that the autonomy of the Election Commission can be maintained.

The Supreme Court had said that the country needs a Chief Election Commissioner like Seshan.

It was November, 2022, when the hearing was going on in the constitution bench of five judges regarding the appointments in the Election Commission of the Supreme Court. Then the Supreme Court had said, till now there have been many Chief Election Commissioners, but someone like TN Seshan happens only occasionally. We don’t want anyone to demolish them. A huge power rests on the delicate shoulders of three people (Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners). We have to find the most qualified person for the post of CEC.

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