The politics behind Amul versus Nandini, Karnataka’s local dairy brand, is “fake” and Congress is using it to fuel its election campaign, said BJP MP Tejasvi Surya.
In an exclusive interview to News18, Surya said the opposition had to manufacture fake and non-existent issues as it was frustrated over the possibility of losing the upcoming polls on May 10.
“If you have a problem with Amul, then you should also have problems with brands like Arokya, Heritage from Tamil Nadu, Thirumala, and Dodla from Andhra Pradesh. Why only target Amul? People of Karnataka clearly know that it is not love for Nandini but their hate towards Amul as it is from Gujarat; and Amit Shah and Narendra Modi are from Gujarat,” the MP from Bengaluru South said.
He also pointed out that Amul was a brand operating and selling products for decades in Karnataka and, unlike allegations made by the opposition, it was not a conspiracy to bring Amul into Karnataka. He also asked leader of opposition Siddaramaiah to be answerable to the people of Karnataka as to what he had done to improve the growth and health of the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF), whose products are sold under the name Nandini.
What is the Controversy?
The politics over milk has taken over headlines in the poll-bound state with ‘Amul versus Nandini’ being made an election issue, especially by Congress and JD(S). The genesis of this controversy was a statement made by Union home minister Amit Shah in December 2022 while he was inaugurating a mega-dairy unit of KMF in Mandya.
He had said: “Amul and KMF will work together towards ensuring there is a primary dairy in every village of the state. In 47 years, Karnataka has progressed in the dairy sector and the turnover has increased by Rs 4 crore to Rs 25,000 crore during the same period. Amul and KMF have to work together to boost the cooperative dairy in Karnataka.”
The issue spiralled into a full-blown controversy last week when Amul’s official Twitter handle posted a series of social media posters – ‘The #Amul family brings in some Taaza into #Bengaluru city. More updates coming in soon. #LaunchAlert.’
This was quickly picked on by social media and Karnataka politicians, who began using hashtags like #GoBackAmul and #SaveNandini in protest. Senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah tweeted appealing to Kannadigas to boycott the Amul brand and “support Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF), which is the livelihood of millions of dairy farming families in the country”.
Also hopping onto the ‘Amul versus Nandini’ bandwagon was HD Kumaraswamy of the JD(S), who said “Amul is holding the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) and the farmers in a stranglehold”. “Kanandiagas should rebel against Amul,” Kumaraswamy said.
Surya said the ‘josh’ in the BJP was high as the election approached, but the MP also said the BJP and the cadre were unaffected by the unfounded allegations of corruption against the Basavaraj Bommai-led government.
He said the Congress had no locus standi to make allegations when their top leadership (Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi) and others, including their state unit president, were out on bail on corruption charges.
“The Congress has been running this campaign of corruption for the past 30 to 40 months. Why have they not approached any institution like the courts, the Lokayukta, or bodies like the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India) to prove their case? Why are they getting into this spit-and-run, hit-and-run campaign?” he questioned.
He further said in politics perception mattered a lot and the Congress should look within before pointing a finger at the BJP when it comes to corruption.
“Many ministers in the erstwhile Siddaramaiah government face serious allegations of corruption, be it their involvement in sand mafia, mining mafia in the Old Mysore region, real estate mafia in the Kempegowda, Arkavathy layouts or the allegation of a close associate of Siddaramaiah swindling around Rs 200 to 250 crore belonging to the SC, ST and OBC hostels; this is the kind of burden the Congress has in Karnataka,” Surya said.
Asked if former CM and veteran BS Yediyurappa faced jail on corruption charges, Surya said he had been exonerated by the courts, including the Supreme Court. “These are not charges that withstood the test in the court of law,” he said.
‘Modi Wave’ in Karnataka
Asked about how the state BJP was hoping to cash in on the ‘Modi wave’ with the prime minister planning a series of public meetings and rallies here, Surya said his campaign visit will boost the morale of ‘karyakartas’ and also impress the electorate to vote in favour of the saffron camp.
“It will also bring a new sense of hope to the voters that the upcoming government in Karnataka will deliver on the promises made, just like the PM has been delivering at the Centre; the PM also made a fervent call to the people asking them to vote in favour of a full majority, stable BJP government. I am sure the people will pay heed to his appeal,” he added.
Muslim Reservation Row
On the decision to scrap 4% backward classes quota to Muslims and reallot it to the dominant Lingayat and Vokkaliga communities, Surya said what the BJP did was “correct a constitutional anomaly”.
Calling the reservation for Muslims “unconstitutional”, set in motion by the Congress and JD(S), he said it was a move solely to cater to their vote bank. He also said he was confident that the request by Karnataka to the Centre to consider the new amendment under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, so that it is protected from judicial scrutiny, will be passed smoothly.
Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar recently made a statement that if his party was voted to power, it will reverse the decision on scrapping the Muslim quota.
“He (Shivakumar) must clarify from whom he will snatch away this 4 percent reservation to give it back to the Muslims. Will he take it from the Vokkaligas, Lingayats, or other Hindu OBC castes? The Hindu OBCs are asking him a pertinent and important question… which OBC caste’s quota will he take away to give to the Muslims?” the MP asked.
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