When Seshan snatched the biscuit from Rajiv Gandhi's mouth and said that he eats politicians for breakfast, the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister were at loggerheads with everyone.

Ronit Kawale
Ronit Kawale - Senior Editor
6 Min Read

New Delhi: On 2 December 1989, the very next day after Vishwanath Pratap Singh became the Prime Minister, a meeting was called to consider whether SPG protection should be given to former PM Rajiv Gandhi and his family or not. TN Seshan, who was the Cabinet Secretary at that time, 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.

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

When TN Seshan got the offer of Chief Election Commissioner, he did not immediately accept it. In this regard, he had taken advice 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. Should take it.

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

Rajiv Gandhi was happy and made him the Security Secretary.

Before becoming Election Commissioner, TN Seshan was Secretary in the Environment Ministry. 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 and said that the Prime Minister should not eat anything that was not tested beforehand.

TN Seshan was close to Rajiv Gandhi. He took personal decisions with their advice

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

Seshan had issued a 17-page order on 2 August 1993. In which he had said that until the government does not recognize the powers of the Election Commission, no elections will be held in the country. Ultimately the government had to bow down to this demand. He said that before me, the Chief Election Commissioner had to sit outside the Law Minister's office and wait for the 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 even 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 IDs only to those who met the eligibility criteria. Worked to make the machinery of the Election Commission autonomous. This was done to stop activities like bribery, liquor distribution, luring voters etc. Limits on candidates' expenses were fixed. It is mandatory to take prior written permission to campaign through loudspeaker.

The government had opposed photo identification

When Seshan started conducting elections through photo identity card, the then government was against it. Then Seshan had threatened to stop the elections under Rule 37 of the Representation of the People 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 officials for the slightest negligence during election conduct. Tina Seshan also brought this tradition. During his time, transfers from senior police officers to administrative officers were done due to negligence or inappropriate conduct.

Navbharat TimesHow the vote percentage increased after voting, Election Commission told the Supreme Court

Told the leaders the situation of the Election Commission

TN Seshan exposed the power of the Election Commission. Those who considered the Commission a trivial matter were made to realize the power of the Commission. Even powerful and powerful leaders started fearing 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 is maintained.

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

It was the month of 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 tear them down. 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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