Former Chief Election Commissioner Tirunellai Naryana Seshan, known ubiquitously as TN Seshan, passed away today. Seshan was a legend of his field, and ushered in reforms that shaped India’s democracy in the 90s. He was 86 and died of cardiac arrest in Chennai. A retired 1955 batch IAS officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre, he led the ECI from 1990 to 1996. He received the prestigious Magasyay Award for making the electoral process more transparent.
He was born in Kerala’s Palakkad district in 1932, and joined the civil services in 1955 and served in various departments. Before becoming CEC, he was the Cabinet Secretary. In 1997, his electoral foray didn’t go off very well and he lost the presidential election against KR Narayanan.
Former CEC Dr SY Quraishi wrote: “Sad to announce that Shri TN Seshan passed away a short while ago. He was a true legend and a guiding force for all his successors. I pray for peace to his soul.”
Shashi Tharoor also wrote: “Sad that former ChiefElectionCommissioner TN Seshan has passed away in Chennai. He was my father’s classmate at VictoriaCollege Palakkad — a courageous &crusty boss who asserted the ElectionCommission’s autonomy& authority as no CEC before him had done. A pillar of our democracy.”