Gujarat-based dairy giant Amul’s announcement that its products will soon be available to order online in Bengaluru has caused a political slugfest ahead of the upcoming Karnataka assembly elections. The Opposition — Congress and JD(S) — have launched scathing attacks on the ruling BJP, siding with the state’s own formidable dairy brand, Nandini, owned by the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF), which would come under threat if the Gujarat brand enters the state market. The two parties have accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah of “looting” Karnataka.
The BJP has, in turn, accused the Congress of unleashing a “misinformation campaign” and asserted that it has done far more than the opposition party to strengthen the Karnataka Milk Federation.
Amid the raging milk politics, DK Shivakumar, Karnataka Congress president, visited Nandini milk parlour in the Hassan district of Karnataka today.
As the chorus to boycott Amul products grows louder, the Opposition accused the ruling BJP of betraying the farmers of Karnataka.
“Nandini is our milk we must use our brand, we have to help our farmers, because the farmers are not getting the proper price, we should help them. It is Karnataka and Karnataka’s farmers’ pride. We must protect our farmers. They are trying to bring Amul here, it is shameful. I never expected Basavaraj Bommai would betray the farmers of Karnataka,” DK Shivakumar said.
ST Somashekar, the incumbent minister for Co-Operation, said that Karnataka’s homegrown brand Nandini would beat Amul on the pricing front.
“If Amul sells its milk online for Rs 57 a litre, we will sell our Nandini for Rs 39 a litre,” the minister added.
Nandini is the largest milk supplier in the state, accounting for more than 33 lakh litres per day in Bengaluru. While Nandini sells at Rs 39 per litre, Amul milk sells anywhere between Rs 54 and Rs 64 per litre.
Senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah on Sunday tweeted asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was visiting Karnataka on Sunday, whether the purpose of his visit was “to loot the state”.
Prime Minister @narendramodi avare,
Is your purpose of coming to Karnataka is to give to Karnataka or to loot from Karnataka?
— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) April 9, 2023
While there’s strong opposition from the farmer community and hotel association, the chief minister accused Congress and the JD(S) of politicising Amul’s entry.
“We have absolute clarity with regard to Amul. Nandini is a national brand. It’s not restricted to Karnataka. We have popularised Nandini as a brand in other states as well,” he said.
BJP spokesperson MG Mahesh said that the two opposition parties are indulging in petty politics.
“Congress’s mindset is so cheap that they are ready to accept the product of China but not India. We want to make Nandini, a Karnataka-based brand, a global brand. The government is not here to support any brand, this is just the petty politics of Congress & JD(S), if something happens to the farmers, Congress and JD(S) will be responsible,” he said.
The row over Amul’s entry started when Amit Shah inaugurated the dairy farm in Mandya in December 2022. His statement that Gujarat and Karnataka can work together for the welfare of the milk-producing farmers of the whole country kicked up a storm, triggering a campaign to save Nandini.