Amul vs. Nandini: BJP facing heat in Karnataka for its involvement in milk politics

The political clash between “Amul versus Nandini” has alarmed the BJP, compelling top party figures to intervene and settle the dispute that broke out just one month before the Karnataka Assembly elections. 

The debate highlights the relevance of “politics around milk” in Karnataka, where 16 unions with 24 lakh members and a distribution throughout 22,000 villages give the sector a strong voice that parties want to have at the local level.

Political analyst A Narayana explained the political relevance of milk unions by saying that “beyond the money and prestige, it’s the large membership base that parties are looking to cultivate.”

Most JD(S) and Congress officials held the position of chairperson of the second-largest dairy cooperative in India, Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF), which owns the Nandini brand. Balachandra Jarkiholi, a politician for the BJP, was chosen to lead the KMF in 2019.

Candidates always have political support even if milk union elections are not held on party lines. According to sources, the Congress is currently supported by two milk unions, the JD(S) by three, and the BJP is supported by the rest of the milk unions.

Amul now sells its milk and curd online, and both the Congress and the JD(S) have made it a matter of Kannada identity. DK Shivakumar, president of the Karnataka Congress, made a point on Monday while munching on Nandini snacks at a stand in Hassan.

The BJP has a much at stake given the milk unions’ enormous influence.

Along with anti-incumbency, which is a natural concern for any incumbent, the Amul-Nandini controversy is another front on which the BJP is having to engage in combat. One BJP leader warned that the misinformation “runs the risk of igniting anti-incumbency further.”

As a result, a number of prominent BJP leaders prepared to argue against the opposition. For instance, BJP National General Secretary (Organisation) BL Santhosh noted that Amul milk entered Karnataka in 2017 when the Siddaramaiah-led Congress was in office.

Similar to this, Siddaramiah’s tenure in 2014 saw the launch of Nandini in Tamil Nadu, according to K Annamalai, president of the BJP in Tamil Nadu. He questioned, “Why this double standard?

But farmer leader Kuruburu Shanthakumar accused the BJP, Congress, and JD(S) of undermining the KMF on behalf of all three parties.

“Recruitment for the KMF is corrupt. Financial irregularities exist. Private businesses are now competing in the dairy industry, luring farmers with higher pricing. This will eventually kill down unions. Up until now, no major party has addressed the problems, he claimed.


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