New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday paid tribute to former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) TN Seshan who passed away Sunday night at this residence in Chennai at the age of 86 due to a heart attack.

The Wayanad MP tweeted: “Unlike today, there was a time when our Election Commissioners were impartial, respected, brave & feared. Shri TN Seshan was one of them. My condolences to his family on his passing.

A 1955-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, Seshan served as Secretary of Defence in 1988 under then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the Congress leader’s father. A year later, he was promoted to Cabinet Secretary, the highest position a civil servant can achieve.

However, it was his term as the 10th CEC, from December 12 1990-December 11 1996, which he is most famous and will be remembered for. Unlike previous CECs, who could not ensure adherence to the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by politicians and failed to punish them for even blatant violations, Seshan brought in electoral reforms which made politicians ‘scared’ of him.

Among several steps he took to ensure free and fair polling was appointing special election observers in all states to keep a close check on the election process and make sure that the MCC was strictly adhered to. He also brought down extravagant money being spent by parties during the elections. In 1994, in a now-famous incident, Seshan even asked then-Prime Minister to drop two of his ministers for ‘influencing’ the voters and violating the MCC, which was in place at the time.

Seshan’s death was announced by former CEC SY Quraishi and condoled by a host of politicians including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.