‘Amul’ vs ‘Nandini’

Karnataka goes to polls on 10 May and the state has been witnessing an array of rallies and campaigning by political parties. Strangely, this time the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is being targeted by the Opposition, particularly Congress over an issue that never featured in earlier state assembly elections. It’s a clash between the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), the maker of ‘Amul’ milk products and Karnataka’s biggest and local milk cooperative and producer of ‘Nandini’ brand of products, the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF). If anything GCMMF’s ‘Amul’ stands for big business. They are now looking at e-commerce or quick commerce channels. They spend crores of rupees on advertisement round the year across the country, virtually enjoying monopoly in certain milk items. Opposition parties see in the entry of ‘Amul’ in Karnataka as a threat to state’s 2.5 million small milk producers represented by KMF. Congress looks too worried about small farmers!

‘Amul’ being based in Gujarat, opposition parties; particularly Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) identify it with the ruling dispensation–Bharatiya Janata Party. “One Nation, one Milk, one Gujarat seem to be the official stand of the Central Government”. So said H D Kumaraswamy, the leader of JD(S).

Milk producers’ vote in Karnataka is crucial for elections and have winning those carries a huge bonus for political parties. “The fear of ‘Amul’ taking over ‘Nandini’, however, goes back to a comment made by Union Home Minister Amit Shah sometime ago in which he said that the Gujarat cooperative that sells Amul and KMF would work together to set up diaries in all villages in Karnataka”. But it was seen as an attempt to merge the two cooperatives and finish KMF’s independent existence.

Meanwhile, KMF is going to appeal to the National Dairy Development Board to stop ‘Amul’ from take-over, hear their demands. They are also planning to hold a protest movement depending on the development. Congress, otherwise faced with a survival crisis, has started election campaign in Karnataka by way of fuelling the Amul-Nandini issue. Then Congress leader Siddaramaiah went a step further as he would tweet to Narendra Modi saying, “You have already stolen banks, ports and air-ports from Kannadigas—are you trying to steal Nandini from us?” In other words they are trying to whip up regional passion as it, like religious communalism, sells well in vote market.

But the chief minister of Karnataka, BJP’s Basavaraj Bommai, has stated clearly that Amul will not be prevented from entering the state as Nandini products are also sold in other states. Then brands like ‘Arokya’ and ‘Heritage’ from Tamil Nadu and ‘Thirumala’ and ‘Dodla’ from Andhra Pradesh are doing business in Karnataka without being opposed by the Opposition. In truth this shadow boxing over a secondary issue makes little sense in a situation where inflation is ruining ordinary wage earners in the informal economy. Unemployment is like a volcano. Curtailment of budgetary allocations for social welfare schemes is creating trouble for the marginalised. But Congress has no agenda to address the problems of ordinary people. Their only agenda is how to project Rahul Gandhi as the supreme leader of the Gandhi establishment and make electoral permutations and combinations with some regional outfits, having national ambition, as their principal political activity. They are not against monopoly business. Nor can they oppose the BJP government ideologically and politically on the economic front because what Modi is doing was originally scripted by the Congress. Talking of erosion of democracy and constitution day in and day out will not alter the draconian detention law regime. The idea of locating naxalites (or terrorists) as main internal security threat was floated by the Congress and Modi has extended the internal threat syndrome to all shades of political dissenters, including Gandhian dissenters. So there are so many people languishing in jails just for criticising the government. And Congress Party never agitates on the street demanding unconditional release of the innocent.

This ‘Amul’-‘Nandini’ debate will soon subside and the Congress will have to search for another sensational issue having very little relevance to the ground reality.


Back to Home Page

Vol 55, No. 44, April 30 - May 6, 2023