Three-time MLA and senior Akali Dal chief who earned the title of ‘Jathedar’, Tota Singh, (81) handed away at a personal hospital in Mohali on Saturday.
Household sources mentioned that he was affected by problems that arose from lung pneumonia since February. He was readmitted to the hospital two days in the past after he complained of breathlessness and different points.
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Having gained the polls two occasions from Moga and as soon as from Dharamkot, he was an in depth confidant of SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal. He had additionally participated in a number of “morchas” led by Akali Dal for rights of Punjab and had additionally spent jail time period.
Former schooling and agriculture minister throughout completely different tenures of the SAD authorities, he had began his political profession as sarpanch of his village Didar Singh Wala within the Nihal Singh Wala division of Moga district.
A core-committee member of the occasion, Tota Singh was one of many oldest candidates within the Punjab elections this yr and had contested from Dharamkot on SAD ticket however misplaced to AAP candidate.
The veteran chief is survived by spouse Mukhtyar Kaur, three sons and a daughter. (Specific picture)
One of many longest serving members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) from 1979 to until date, he was referred to as ‘jathedar’ for being one of many senior-most Akali Dal leaders in Punjab.
Prem Singh Chandumajra, occasion’s senior vice-president and former Lok Sabha member, mentioned that Tota Singh labored with most occasion presidents. “From Sant Fateh Singh to Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Surjit Singh Barnala to Harcharan Singh Longowal, Parkash Singh Badal to Sukhbir Singh Badal – Tota Singh labored with all. He was a grassroots stage chief who had remained on key posts of SAD proper from village and district stage to the best core committee,” Chandumajra mentioned.
“It was throughout his tenure as Mandi board chairman that most recruitments have been accomplished. The title ‘jathedar’ in 100-year previous occasion Akali Dal is given to dyed-in-wool Taksali leaders who lead from the entrance and have these typical traits of a real Akali. He wasn’t only a politician however a panthik chief too who understood spiritual points nicely being one of many longest serving members of SGPC,” he added.
In 1997, he gained his first meeting election from Moga and was inducted into the cupboard of the SAD-BJP authorities as schooling minister. Then in 2002, he once more gained from Moga however in 2007 he confronted defeat from this seat. Then in 2012, he contested from Dharamkot and gained. He was once more inducted within the cupboard as agriculture minister however the identical yr, he was convicted in a corruption case for alleged misuse of an official automobile (throughout his tenure as schooling minister) and sentenced to a yr of imprisonment. He resigned from the cupboard and moved to the Excessive Court docket. After the Punjab and Haryana Excessive Court docket stayed his sentence, he was once more inducted within the cupboard as agriculture and NRI affairs minister. In 2015, throughout his tenure as agriculture minister, there was an enormous cotton crop failure in Punjab resulting from whitefly and alleged distribution of spurious pesticides, and opposition demanded his resignation.
Tota Singh with SAD patron and five-time CM Parkash Singh Badal. (Specific picture)
The opposition had additionally focused the SAD-BJP authorities in 1997 when being an undergraduate, Tota Singh was made schooling minister.
But it surely was in 1999-2000 throughout his tenure as an schooling minister that the Akali Dal authorities had launched English as a obligatory topic at major stage from class I in authorities faculties. Earlier, English as a topic began from class 6 in authorities faculties.
In 2018, a court docket in Mohali had additionally acquitted him in a forgery case registered by the vigilance bureau, associated to recruitment of 134 clerks by the Punjab College Training Board (PSEB), through which 4 others have been convicted however Tota Singh, who was the schooling minister on the time of recruitments, was given a clear chit by the court docket.
He’s survived by spouse Mukhtyar Kaur, three sons and a daughter. His eldest son Balwinder Singh is deputy secretary with Punjab Air pollution Management Board (PPCB), one other son Barjinder Singh Makhan Brar can also be with the SAD, daughter Dr Paramjit Kaur is a medical practitioner within the UK, and the youngest son Dr Jaswinder Singh is a dentist primarily based in Calgary.
Barjinder Singh Makhan Brar mentioned that his father was elected because the occasion’s district president in 1969 when Ferozepur was the most important district and included Faridkot and Moga. “Not simply the Badals, he was very near different SAD presidents, together with Sant Fateh Singh Surjit Singh Barnala, Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Jagdev Singh Talwandi and Harcharan Singh Longowal. He at all times labored for the betterment of Punjab and Akali Dal, not any particular person,” he mentioned.
His proximity with Badals will be gauged from the truth that in 2017 and 2022 Punjab polls, occasion president Sukhbir Singh Badal allotted two tickets to the household (for Tota Singh and his son Barjinder Singh each) defying occasion’s ‘one household, one ticket’ rule, a transfer which additionally drew criticism from different SAD leaders who too wished two tickets.
Tota Singh was additionally keen on writing and had launched his maiden e book ‘Gatha Purkeyan di’ in 2020. After medication grew to become a problem in Punjab, Tota Singh in one in every of his speeches had steered dope testing for politicians earlier than submitting nomination papers and contesting polls.
“Proper from day one in his politics, he remained with Akali Dal until the top. There have been splits inside the occasion and he joined Surjit Singh Barnala for someday however he at all times remained an Akali by coronary heart,” mentioned Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, occasion spokesperson.
5-time CM and occasion patron Parkash Singh Badal mentioned, “..Punjabis on the whole and the Khalsa Panth, particularly, have misplaced a powerful panthic voice that at all times remained unflinching in dedication to the tenets and beliefs set earlier than us by the nice Guru Sahiban…’
Recalling his almost half-century lengthy affiliation with Tota Singh, he mentioned, “Jathedar Sahib was a tireless crusader and was at all times among the many first to supply to make sacrifices for safeguarding the pursuits of the Sikh quom, Punjab and Punjabis. He performed a significant function in SAD’s tireless efforts to reclaim the glory of the Khalsa Panth after the neighborhood had been hit laborious by the occasions of 1984. He, together with Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi and Capt Kanwaljit Singh, was the guiding spirit behind the Moga Conference on the seventy fifth anniversary of the occasion.”
Get together president Sukhbir Singh Badal mentioned that Tota Singh was a ‘father determine’ for him.
Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann tweeted, “I mourn the passing away of Jathedar Tota Singh, a senior chief of SAD and former cupboard minister….”
For the occasion which has managed to win simply three seats in not too long ago held Punjab polls, demise of Tota Singh has come as setback particularly in Moga, his dwelling district and political bastion. “There’s no different Akali Dal of his stature in Moga. This void might be laborious to fill,” mentioned a SAD employee from Moga.