Former Chief Election Commissioner TN Seshan died on Sunday at his residence in Chennai. He was 86.

“Sad to announce that Shri TN Seshan passed away a short while ago,” Dr SY Quraishi, a former chief election commissioner, said. “He was a true legend and a guiding force for all his successors. I pray for peace to his soul.”

Seshan’s last rites are expected to be performed on Monday.

Seshan’s family members Srividya and Mahesh told The Hindu that the former chief election commissioner did not suffer from any illness. “He had a fever yesterday,” Srividya said. “Otherwise, he had only age-related issues. It was very sudden. At 9.15 pm, he was watching television, felt uneasy and wanted to go the restroom. Later when we took him to the bed, he passed away.”

Seshan held the post of the chief election commissioner from December 12, 1990 to December 11, 1996, The Times of India reported. He was a 1955-batch Indian Administrative Service officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre, and served as Cabinet secretary in 1989. Seshan had also been the administrative head of the Indian Space Research Organisation. Seshan contested the presidential election against KR Narayanan in 1997, but lost.

Seshan initiated reforms in the Election Commission to ensure free and fair polls in India, the Hindustan Times reported. He had a no-nonsense approach and often crossed swords with politicians during elections.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences to Seshan’s family. “Shri TN Seshan was an outstanding civil servant,” he tweeted. “He served India with utmost diligence and integrity. His efforts towards electoral reforms have made our democracy stronger and more participative. Pained by his demise. Om Shanti.”

“TN Seshan was a legend,” Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said, according to The Times of India. “He will always be a source of inspiration to us and all CECs and ECs to come.”

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi condoled the death and tweeted: “Unlike today, there was a time when our Election Commissioners were impartial, respected, brave [and] feared. Shri #TNSeshan was one of them.”

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