Punjab Agricultural minister, Tota Singh, 70, hails from Didar Singh wala village in Nihal Singh Wala assembly constituency, and is a senior leader of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), who is fondly addressed as Jathedar by the people of the party.
A matriculate, Tota Singh was once a close confidante of former Punjab chief minister Surjit Singh Barnala. It was Barnala when he was the chief minister in 1986 who appointed Tota Singh as the chairman of the Punjab Marketing Board. Before that Tota Singh was just a circle level jathedar.
His close associates fondly recall how Tota was also popular in the area for carrying a mouser pistol around his waist covered in a wooden holster when he was emerging as a circle level leader.
Later, when Barnala lost political grip in Punjab and Parkash Singh Badal begin to emerge as the prominent leader in the state Tota started to cement his ties with the later.
In 1997 Tota fought his first election from the Shiromani Akali Dal ticket from Moga constituency. Though he was the first time MLA still Badal made him the education minister. At that time there was no cap on the formation of the cabinet ministers.
It was during his tenure as education minister that Tota courted several controversies including the allegation of recruiting teachers in the department with illegal gratification.
He was once again elected MLA from the Moga assembly constituency in 2002 but remained in opposition as the SAD-BJP alliance had lost assembly elections to Punjab congress.
In 2007 assembly polls Tota Singh had lost to congress MLA Joginder Pal Jain, a local industrialist from Moga.
Tota had to bear lot of embarrassment in the state and within the party when his son Barjinder Singh Brar alias Makhan, was involved in a case along with some senior Punjab Police officials of Moga for allegedly blackmailing high and rich by providing girls. The charges have been framed in the case.
Due to the aforesaid controvers,y the SAD leadership was not keen to field Tota from Moga assembly segment. Hence in 2012 assembly Tota contested from Dharamkot assembly segment. Tota also wanted a party ticket for his son from Moga which the SAD denied and gave to former Punjab DGP, Paramdeep Singh Gill.
However, after winning from Dharamkot assembly segment in 2012 the Parkash Singh Badal government made him agricultural minister.