VADODARA: Former minister and ex-IPS officer Jaspal Singh died following a heart attack at his residence here early Monday morning. He was 83. Singh will be cremated at Chandod on Tuesday. Barring essential services, offices of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) will remain closed on Tuesday as mark of respect to former mayor of the city.

Singh’s popularity in the city had soared in 1983 when the city was witnessing frequent communal riots. Such was the situation that the state government was in a dilemma regarding permission for the annual Narsinhji procession on its traditional route. Singh, who was then the police commissioner, decided to take a call and allowed the procession making him a hero among the masses instantly. Within days of the event, Singh was transferred but chose to resign. The move only gave momentum to his appeal. It is said that queues were witnessed at circuit house as there was a steady trickle of people coming to meet him.

In 1984, Singh made his debut in electoral politics by contesting the polls on a BJP ticket for the Vadodara parliamentary constituency. He lost the polls to scion of the royal Gaekwad family Ranjitsinh Gaekwad.

He then contested the assembly polls as an independent in the 1985 general elections from the Raopura seat, but lost. But in the same year, a by-election was held for the Sayajigunj assembly constituency and Singh contested again tasting his first electoral victory.

Singh stormed into the political canvas of the city by floating a local party Savdhan and contesting the VMC polls in 1987. He went on to become the mayor with the support of Jantal Dal and BJP. He then won the 1990 assembly polls on a Janta Dal ticket. He later joined the BJP and won the 1995 assembly polls and was made the civil supplies minister in the Keshubhai Patel government. He won in the mid-term polls held in 1998 and was awarded the same portfolio. Later, he was made the minister for prisons.

When Narendra Modi took over the reigns as the chief minister of the state, Singh was not included in the ministry. He resigned both from the party and as a MLA. In the 2001 by-elections for the Sayajigunj seat, he lost the polls as a Samajwadi Party candidate. He contested the 2002 assembly polls too on a Samta Party ticket, but lost again. Singh never contested an election after 2002. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

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