Tota Singh (1941 – 2022) was an Indian politician and a senior leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal. During the Shiromani Akali Dal-led government in Punjab, in 2012, he was appointed as the Minister for Agriculture & NRI Affairs. During his tenure as a leader of SAD, Tota Singh served as the Senior Vice President, a Member of the High Power Committee of Shiromani Akali Dal, and a Member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.
Tota Singh was born on Sunday, 2 March 1941 (age 81 years; at the time of death) in Didar Singh Wala, Moga, Punjab, British Raj. His zodiac sign was Pisces. Soon after completing his school education at a local school in Moga, Tota Singh went to DM College, Moga to pursue graduation in fine arts. My Neta
Hair Colour: Grey
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name was Babu Singh.
Wife & Children
Tota Singh’s wife’s name is Mukhtyar Kaur. The couple has four children, three sons and a daughter. His son Balwinder Singh is a deputy secretary with Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), Barjinder Singh Makhan Brar is a SAD leader, and Dr Jaswinder Singh is a dentist in Calgary. His daughter’s name is Dr Paramjit Kaur Dhillon, and she is a medical practitioner in the UK.
Tota Singh began his political journey in 1969 when he was appointed as the party president of the Ferozepur, Faridkot, and Moga districts. At that time, the Ferozepur district used to be the largest district of Punjab. From 1985 to 1987, Tota Singh served as the Chairman Punjab Mandi Board under the ministry of Surjit Singh Barnala. He contested the Punjab Legislative Assembly elections from the Moga constituency backed by the Shiromani Akali Dal and won. During this third Badal ministry, Tota Singh was designated as the Education Minister till 2002. From 1999 to 2000, during his tenure as the Education Minister of Punjab, Tota Singh made the English language a compulsory subject in primary classes. Earlier, it was taught from class sixth onwards. Meanwhile, he took the necessary steps to modernise the education sector in Punjab and is credited for familiarising computer literacy in Punjab government schools. Tota Singh again won the Punjab Legislative Assembly from the Moga constituency in 2002 on the ticket of Shiromani Akali Dal. After five years, Tota Singh won the Punjab Legislative Assembly elections from the Dharamkot constituency in 2012, and soon after his victory, he held the portfolio of Agriculture & NRI Affairs in the cabinet ministry. He then contested the assembly elections from the Dharamkot constituency in 2017, but this time, he lost the seat to the Indian National Congress candidate Sukhjit Singh, who became the MLA from Dharamkot soon after winning the elections. In September 2021, Tota Singh contested the Dharamkot constituency elections and his son Barjinder Singh Brar alias Makhan contested from the Moga constituency.
Illegal Recruitment of Clerks
- During the same time, Tota Singh was accused of recruiting 134 clerks in the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) through illegal means; however, the Punjab and Haryana High Court gave him a clean chit in the case and was absolved in the case. Hindustan Times
Using Government Vehicle for Personal Use
- In May 2012, when he was serving as the agriculture minister of Punjab, he was convicted in the Mohali court for using a car of the Punjab School Education Board for his personal use. Tota Singh resigned from the cabinet ministry soon after he was charged in this legal case and appealed to the Punjab High Court. The High Court in its verdict sentenced a year in jail to him along with a penalty of thirty thousand rupees. Later, the Haryana and Punjab High court issued a stay notice on the verdict.
Allegations on his Son, Barjinder Singh
- In 2012, Barjinder Singh alias Makhan Brar, the son of Tota Singh, came into the limelight when his name hit the headlines in the Moga sex scandal. Barjinder Singh, along with other senior Punjab Police officials of Moga, was accused of blackmailing the rich in the scandal.
Allegations to Supply Spurious Pesticides
- In 2015, when Jathedar Tota Singh was serving as the agriculture minister of Punjab, his resignation was demanded by the leaders of the opposition when the whitefly and the distribution of spurious pesticides destroyed a huge cotton crop in Punjab and blamed Tota Singh for the same.
Apart from being a politician, Tota Singh liked to write books. A book titled ‘Gatha Purkeyan di’ was released by him in 2020
- Cash: Rs. 40,000
- Agricultural Land: Rs. 8,75,00,000
- Non Agricultural Land: Rs. 6,50,00,000
- Commercial Buildings: Rs. 1,27,50,000
- Loans from Banks/FIs: Rs. 3,31,70,000
- Being one of the senior-most Shiromani Akali Dal leaders in Punjab, Tota Singh earned the title Jatherdar before his name. The Indian Express
- Tota Singh was a trusted leader in Surjit Singh Barnala’s ministry in Punjab, and after the fall of the Barnala government in Punjab, he joined Badal’s Shiromani Akali Dal.
- Tota Singh was an undergraduate, and when the SAD government appointed him as the education minister of Punjab in 1997, the opposition targeted the SAD-BJP government in the matter.
- Once, the SAD party president Sukhbir Singh Badal stated in one of his conversations with a media house that Tota Singh was like a father to him.
- At the beginning of his political career, before filing the nomination papers to contest in the Punjab elections, Tota Singh stated in one of his speeches that a compulsory dope test was required to be conducted on all the politicians in Punjab. During that time, drug addiction cases were at their peak in Punjab.
- During his cremation on 24 May 2022, his granddaughters voluntarily participated in his last rituals. Several media houses captured Tapreet and Japreet giving shoulders to his body, organising wood on the pyre, and putting saamagri for the last rites. Harjus Kaur Dhillon and Jasleen Kaur Brar, his two other granddaughters, also attended his funeral. In an interview with a media house, Japreet Kaur, the younger daughter of Barjinder Singh Makhan Brar, stated that her grandfather loved his granddaughters more than the sons in their family. She narrated,
No one in our family has ever differentiated between a boy and a girl. If we had a brother, he too would have done the same. So why can’t we bid farewell to our grandfather the way we want? We did not think for a second what society would say or if anyone would object. For us he was our baaji who always loved us more than the sons in the family.”
In the same conversation, Tota Singh’s son, Barjinder Singh, stated that he was proud of his daughters, and he added that it was their right to participate in the funeral of their grandfather. He said,
When my daughters told me that they want to participate in the rituals, I was very proud and told them that it was their right to do so. Sikhism has always taught us about great women warriors such as Mai Bhago who had fought the Mughals. If a women can fight the Mughals, then performing these rituals is nothing.”