SESHAN- A Name quoted during Elections

Recently the elections took place in many states of the country. Amidst the corona crisis, the one state which captured everyone’s eye is West Bengal. While the entire nation is suffering from the virus, shortage of oxygen and beds, and high spikes in everyday cases, rallies are being held in the state of West Bengal. Hundreds and thousands of people are attending the rallies on daily basis without following the covid-19 norms. The state itself tracked about 12876 cases in the last 24 hours.

The eight-phase elections in Bengal during second wave of Covid seem to follow none of the covid norms and political rallies are a potential source of spreading the infection. While the Election commission being warned many times for the same, on Thursday finally the court censured the commission. The Chief Justice, High Court of Calcutta remarked: “The Election Commission is empowered to act, but what is it doing about polls in these Covid times? The EC is just passing circulars and leaving it to the people. But the EC has implementing authority” Stating that the election commission had not been able to match even one-tenth of T.N Seshan’s office. It further warned the commission, ‘They better act like Seshan or we will.’

This is not first time the name ‘Seshan’ has come up, even before this many times this name is cited while the elections are held. But Who is Seshan and why do people remember him during the times of elections?

Best known for his electoral reforms; the 10th chief election commissioner of India, Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan was born in 1932. He served as a civil servant and a bureaucrat in the Indian Administrative Services. He was awarded Ramon Magsaysay Award for government services in 1996.

He is considered to be the one who has redefined Election pattern of India. During his period as an Election commissioner (from 12 December 1990 to 11 December 1996), he acknowledged the malpractices which were going on in the electoral system of the nation.

Out of all the reforms he implemented some of them are as mentioned below:

  • Enforcement of Election Code of Conduct.
  • Appointing election officials from states other than the one facing polls.
  • He made Voter IDs compulsory for all eligible voters.
  • He implemented a limit on Candidates’ election expenditure.

Some of the malpractices identified and were prohibited after, are as follows:

  • Using government funds and machinery for campaigning
  • Using the places of worship for campaigns
  • Distributing liquor during the campaigns and outside the voting booth.
  • Bribing, intimidating, or threatening voters for the vote.
  • Barging into voters’ caste or communal feelings.
  • Using high music volume and loudspeakers for campaigns (however this was allowed only if the parties have sought written permission).

 Some of his other works done to reform the electoral system are:

  • More than 40,000 expenditure accounts were reviewed by him and about 14,000 candidates were disqualified on the account of providing false information.
  • The Elections were canceled in Bihar and Haryana due to some electoral issues in 1992.

Based on these reforms, during the General Elections of India in the year 1999 about 1400 candidates were disqualified for 3 years based on not submitting their expenditure accounts. Even after completing his office periods his reforms proved to be the new shape of the electoral system of the nation, limiting the campaigning strategies for the political parties.

Whenever there’s an error noticed in the Indian Electoral pattern, only one name comes up: ‘T. N. SESHAN’.