Seshan’s legacy

T.N. Seshan’s life is a great book that will teach anyone how to be principled, focused on objectives and uncompromising even in trying circumstances. The fact that every politician had criticised him at one point or other testifies to his neutrality. He became a middle-class hero across the nation in the nineties. Unfortunately, his efforts to mobilise that support into a movement did not yield fruits. He let people know firmly that he was a constitutional authority and was Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), India, and not CEC, government of India. Second, he asserted that Election Commission would fix the dates and the number of phases and brooked no interference in that. Third, the CEC would decide on the paramilitary forces and local police required for the conduct of elections and if they were not provided, there would be no election. One of his important reforms was given up later. He introduced the practice of mixing up the ballot papers before counting so that no one could know which area fetched a particular number of votes for any party. If this reform is revived, and the machines are pooled and then counted, absolute secrecy will be ensured (News page, “The man who cleared up the Indian electoral system,” Nov. 11).

S. Pushpavanam,

Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu

Seshan left an indelible imprint on the institution of the Electoral Commission (EC) and was largely responsible for cleaning the Augean stables and turning the EC into a force to be reckoned with. Seshan was a nightmare to politicians both in power and in the Opposition as he was a stickler for rules and came down heavily on even minor deviations from the set norms. Whether it was about enforcing the Model Code of Conduct strictly or in curbing the use of money and muscle power in elections, Seshan stood firm and never afforded any leeway to anyone to bend the rules in any manner. Although he was not popular among the political class, the citizens of the country hailed him for his commitment to free and fair elections.

C.V. Aravind,


This is in response to the article “Now, even trees have QR codes” (Some editions, Nov. 11). The Botany department of P.B. Siddhartha College of Arts and Sciences came up with a simple yet brilliant plan, to assign QR codes to different trees on the college campus. This may seem a bit strange, but, coming in a digital age, why not? This makes it easier for the students to gather all the details about these trees within seconds and also to helps them to save more time. Not only the students, but anyone who is interested in knowing about the trees can utilise this facility, in my opinion this should be encouraged in botanical gardens too. Digital aid should be used for purposes like this, which enriches our knowledge level.

James Thomas,

Idukki, Kerala

In the passing away of Seshan, India has lost a bold citizen who not only cracked the whip on corrupt electoral practices but also showed self-seeking politicians the real powers of the Election Commission. Unfortunately, Seshan’s successors have not come up to his level of efficiency, which is probably why unscrupulous political leaders are today back to playing havoc with their money and muscle power. Whether we will ever get an administrator of Seshan’s integrity is anybody’s guess.

P.G. Menon,


Seshan was an icon of the Indian bureaucracy who strode the Indian Administrative Service like a colossus. He made us realise the real power of the Election Commission (EC), put the fear of God in recalcitrant politicians and literally turned the EC into a truly independent constitutional body. Inspired by him, his successors too, exercised their powers. One of the famous quotes attributed to Seshan was “I eat politicians for breakfast.”

C.G. Kuriakose,

Kothamangalam, Kerala

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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 5:27:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/seshans-legacy/article29948355.ece

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