Elections “cleanser” Seshan is no more

People of variant hues from time to time, occupy top posts in the country, some have extraordinary capabilities, while some others have leadership qualities and administrative acumen while some rare ones have, besides these qualities , enviable courage too to do something memorably new. T. N. Seshan, the 10th Chief Election Commissioner of India took upon himself the onerous job, really an uphill one, to cleanse the election system simply by exercising his powers plus putting in some courage to not protract or retract. He breathed his last at Chennai on November 10 at the age of 86 but left behind a long train of resonance of how differently he handled the Election Commission of India in the period of Chandra Shekhar, P V Narsimha Rao, Atal Behari Vajpayee and H. D. Deve Gowda as Prime Ministers of the country .
He will be known for introducing and ensuring compliance of many reforms in conducting of elections in India by ending many mal- practices. He will be known for identifying scores of mal- practices in the system in respect of conducting elections but his innovative contribution as regards voter ID for all eligible voters in India and fixing limit on candidate’s election expenses have made him stand up differently among most of the Election Commissioners who preceded him to the coveted post.. Though many ‘habitual’ ones took affront to have departure from such practices involving muscle and money power , Seshan resolutely and firmly stood to his ground thus setting an example that with given apparatus, powers and limited means , one could earn laurels in doing something new otherwise much longed for and badly required in this country.
Bribing voters by distributing liquor and money, even threatening or intimidating them , using state machinery and funds for electioneering , appealing voters on caste or religious basis which were considered all in the game as established practice were altogether stopped by Seshan . The menace of using high decibel noise generating loud speakers and creating noise pollution and nuisance during campaigning were totally stopped by him and allowed only after obtaining proper permission with conditions. He made it fairly known that he would scrutinize the details of expenditures incurred by the contesting candidates and violators in fact were found in hundreds who were disqualified from contesting elections for three years.
He cared a naught for any type of opposition or any type of interference from certain political circles for cleansing up the hazy and muddied election system and came to be known as ‘no non-sense man’ because of strong administrative will . Typical incidents of how Union Ministers like Sita Ram Kesri and Kalap Nath Rai were handled by him who were found influencing voters and recommended strongly to the Prime Minister for removing them from the Union cabinet . The unprecedented move virtually landed at the fears that Seshan was overstepping his brief for suggesting penalties of dismissal from the Government of the two Ministers .
The fact , however, remains that an efficient, knowledgeable but immaculately an honest officer though encountering humps and stiff opposition from those who considered him as a threat to their indulgence in malpractices including non performance , emerges at the top and the general public at large who matter the most, hold such a person in high esteem. Though our election system and process need lot of reforms , yet the mess to a larger extent prevailing therein was cleansed and streamlined by the strong willed straight forward and business meaning T. N. Seshan. It is an irony , however, that he aspired to and contested elections for becoming the President of India in 1997 but lost to K .K. Narayan.