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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Sardar Tara Singh, ‘friend of the common man’, passes away at 82

Singh, who was admitted in hospital in August last week, breathed his last at 8.25 am. According to doctors, he had diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and later developed pneumonia leading to infection in lungs. However, his Covid-19 test was negative.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai | Updated: September 20, 2020 12:45:37 pm
Sardar Tara Singh, Sardar Tara Singh passes away, Sardar Tara Singh dead, mla Sardar Tara Singh, who was Sardar Tara SinghThe 82-year-old required dialysis and was on ventilator support. Multiple organs were compromised, said Dr V Ravishankar, Chief Operating Officer, Lilavati Hospital. (Facebook)

Senior BJP leader and former MLA Sardar Tara Singh who passed away in Mumbai’s Lilavati Hospital on Saturday morning was among those fast disappearing breed of politicians who reached out to colleagues across ideological difference and political enmiities. That increasingly rare trait made him “a good friend” of many, both within the BJP as well as in other parties.

Singh, who was admitted in hospital in August last week, breathed his last at 8.25 am. According to doctors, he had diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and later developed pneumonia leading to infection in lungs. However, his Covid-19 test was negative.

The 82-year-old required dialysis and was on ventilator support. Multiple organs were compromised, said Dr V Ravishankar, Chief Operating Officer, Lilavati Hospital.

In 1984, Singh got his first electoral break to contest the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections. He continued as a BJP corporator till 1999.

Singh was fielded as the BJP candidate from Mulund Assembly constituency for the first time in the 1999 elections. Although belonging to the minority Sikh community, Singh won the Gujarati-dominated Mulund Assembly seat with a huge margin of 35,000 votes. He remained the party’s candidate in successive state polls till 2019. After four uninterrupted terms, the decision was taken to field Mihir Kotecha from Mulund Assembly constituency.

Officially, Maharashtra BJP cited old age as the primary reason for denying Singh ticket in the 2019 Assembly polls. The possibility of considering his son Ranjeet Singh was also dropped. The reason cited was Ranjeet Singh was director of the controversial PMC Bank. Although Singh had vehemently denied any role of his son in loan disbursement, the developments worked in favour of a change of candidate. Officially, BJP never raised any charge against his director-son in PMC Bank.

In the State Legislative Assembly, there were many instances when Singh rose to speak, even his political opponents Congress and NCP would lend their support. Known for his down to earth working style, Singh often raised simple neighbourhood issues related to the common man. Whether it was open space for public or hike in ST buses, these issues never skipped his mind. He had long ago cultivated the habit of walking several kilometres daily and interacting with people in his constituency, often joining a group of people along the roadside for breakfast or landing at some place and breaking bread during lunch. Mulund constituency gave him the distinct identity of a “next door neighbour”.

Getting a mini flyover to minimise accidents along Eastern Express Highway, playground at Yogi Hills, Ganapati visarjan ponds, among others, were small issues he painstakingly pursued following people’s demand in his constituency. Singh developed and was associated with Education Trust and played a proactive role in promoting welfare works of several gurudwaras in Mumbai and Nanded.

Former chief minister and Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis described him as a “saccha karyakarta”. “A politician who had totally committed himself to social service and remained the common man’s best friend,” he said.

Former education minister Vinod Tawde said, “The BJP has lost a strong voice of the common man and I, a dear friend. Tara Singh’s jovial approach and commitment to common people will be difficult to replace.”

Senior BJP leader Kirit Somaiya, who broke the news on Twitter, said, “In the passing away of Sardar Tara Singh we lost a good friend and leader who served people till his end.”

Mumbai BJP chief Mangal Prabhat Lodha described Singh as “katya samrat of Mulund”. Senior BJP MLA Yogesh Sagar said, “His stellar work for the people of Mulund over 20 years will be admired by generations to come.”

Mulund Assembly constituency was held by Somaiya till 1999. Somaiya later contested Lok Sabha polls and shifted to Delhi.

Bombay HC allows Tara Singh’s son to perform last rites

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Saturday allowed Rajneet Singh, accused in the PMC Bank case and son of BJP leader Sardar Tara Singh, to perform the last rites of his father. The HC allowed his plea on ‘humanitarian grounds’ and asked the state government to bear the cost of escorts.

Justice Sarang V Kotwal on Saturday urgently heard through videoconference Singh’s application for 20-day temporary bail filed through advocates Nishant Katneshwarkar and Chaitanya Kulkarni and allowed him to perform the final rites on Sunday (September 20) and also meet his family on Monday (September 21) during the day and then again to perform thirteenth day rituals of his father on October 2.

The HC said, “Though this application is preferred for temporary bail, without considering the merits of the matter, I am not inclined to grant temporary bail to the present applicant. However, on purely humanitarian grounds, I am inclined to permit him to attend the funeral (on September 20) and to perform final rites, with escorts. I am also inclined to allow him to meet his family on one more day and then attend the religious ceremonies on the 13th day.” ENS

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