Tota Singh (1941 – 2022) was an Indian politician and a senior leader of the Indian political party 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.
Hair Colour: Grey
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name was Babu Singh. His mother’s name is not known.
Wife & Children
Tota Singh’s wife’s name is Mukhtyar Kaur. The couple has four children, three sons and a daughter. His sons are Balwinder Singh, deputy secretary with Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), Barjinder Singh Makhan Brar (SAD leader), and Dr Jaswinder Singh, a dentist in Calgary. His daughter’s name is Dr Paramjit Kaur Dhillon, and she is a medical practitioner in the UK.
He lived at Jathedar Tota Singh Residence MOGA-142001.
Tota Singh began his political journey in 1969 when he was appointed as the party president of the Ferozepur district, which included the Faridkot and Moga districts in it. 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 Shiromani Akali Dal and won the elections. 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. During the same time, Tota Singh was accused of recruiting 134 clerks in the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) through illegal means; however, the Haryana Na Punjab High court gave him a clean chit in the case and was absolved in the case. 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. 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. These stay orders allowed him to contest 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, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal announced in a political rally that Tota Singh would contest the Dharamkot constituency elections and his son Barjinder Singh Brar alias Makhan would contest from the Moga constituency.
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
- Deposits in Banks: Rs. 16,09,525
- Agricultural Land: Rs. 8,75,00,000
- Non Agricultural Land: Rs. 6,50,00,000
- Commercial Buildings: Rs. 1,27,50,000
- Residential Buildings: Rs. 2,50,00,000
- Loans from Banks/FIs: Rs. 3,31,70,000
- Any other Liability: Rs. 3,00,000
As of 2012, Tota Singh’s net worth was Rs. 15.84 Crores.
On 21 May 2022, Tota Singh died in a hospital in Mohali, Punjab after a prolonged illness. He was undergoing treatment for a liver-related ailment.
- Being one of the senior-most Shiromani Akali Dal leaders in Punjab, Tota Singh earned the title Jatherdar before his name.
- Tota Singh was a trusted leader in the Surjit Singh Barnala’s ministry in Punjab, but soon after the decline of this ministry, Badal’s Shiromani Akali Dal started leading the Punjab government, and Tota Singh then joined SAD admitting it to be the emerging party of Punjab.
- Tota Singh was an undergraduate, and when the SAD government appointed him as the education minister of Punjab in 1997 then the opposition targeted the SAD-BJP government in the matter.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, the drug addiction cases were at their peak in Punjab.
- During his cremation rituals on 24 May 2022, his granddaughters were spotted voluntarily participating in all the rituals after his death. 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.”