The Congress won’t allow a time to come when the BJP can raise the slogan of “One Nation, One Milk”, the opposition party said on Wednesday while accusing the Centre of seeking “enforced cooperation” between Amul and Karnataka Milk Federation brand Nandini.
Terming it a “brazen move” to control dairy cooperatives in states, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said the party will strongly oppose the BJP’s efforts to centralize control of cooperatives by replacing farmers’ control with theirs.
With assembly elections just a month away in Karnataka, the Congress has trained its guns at the ruling BJP and expressed fears that Nandini, the Rs 21,000 crore brand, from the KMF could be merged with Anand Milk Union Limited (AMUL). The BJP has emphatically rejected the charge.
“The Congress party will not allow the time to come when the BJP may raise the slogan of “One Nation, One Milk’,” Ramesh said in a statement.
In its election campaign in Karnataka, and in political activities across the country, the Congress will explain to people the “sinister agenda” behind these moves and resolve to oppose them through all possible democratic means, he said.
The Congress leader alleged that the BJP and Minister of Cooperation Amit Shah are trying to ignore the Constitution which clearly demarcates cooperative societies as a state subject.
In December last year, Shah had said during the inauguration of KMF’s mega dairy in Mandya that “cooperation between Amul and Nandini can do wonders in the dairy sector”.
Gujarat-based dairy cooperative Amul announced on April 5 that it would enter the Karnataka market to supply its milk and curd.
In his statement, Ramesh alleged that Shah’s “enforced cooperation” between Amul and Nandini is a “brazen move by BJP to control dairy cooperatives in states”.
Noting that Amul and Nandini are both national success stories of the White Revolution, Ramesh said it was started by Verghese Kurien in Anand and spread across India when prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri established the National Dairy Development Board in 1965.
“The network of cooperatives in each state aimed to empower the dairy farmer, as exemplified by Dr Kurien’s mantra, ‘I am an employee of the farmer’,” Ramesh said.
He said the Congress helped nurture this decentralized vision over decades, empowering and ensuring autonomy to crores of dairy farmers.
“In sharp contrast, Amit Shah imagines a small collection of centralized organizations under his direct command and control. This is the agenda of the new Union Ministry of Cooperation which Shah heads,” Ramesh alleged.
This is why Shah wishes that Amul merges with five other cooperative societies to form a multi-state cooperative society involving two lakh rural diaries, he claimed.
Ramesh also shared a chronology of events, including in it the establishment of the Ministry of Cooperation in July 2021, when Shah was given its charge and his announcement that Amul will merge with five other cooperative societies.
“As the chronology shows, PM Modi and his government are following their usual practice. They are establishing their total control, ignoring the Constitution which clearly demarcates cooperative societies as a state subject,” Ramesh alleged.
Nandini, Amul, and other cooperatives like OMFED, Mother Dairy, Vijaya and Aavin, empower farmers and help them prosper, Ramesh asserted.
For example, the KMF, which markets Nandini, is a federation of 14,000 cooperative societies organized into 14 unions and its 24 lakh members earn over Rs 17 crore a day, Ramesh said.
“Amit Shah and the BJP wish to replace the farmers’ control with their control by consolidating these historic societies into new multi-state cooperative societies,” the Congress leader alleged He went on to add that the attempt to compel KMF to act against its commercial interests is only a step towards the intended goal where all dairy unions become a political arm of the BJP.
“Decisions will not be made in Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar, Chennai or Pune, but in Delhi by Amit Shah, the Minister of Cooperation,” he claimed This will disempower dairy farmers and will ultimately threaten their incomes and livelihoods, Ramesh said.
“This pattern has been seen before. Karnataka, for example, saw Vijaya Bank, one of the most successful public sector banks, merge with the loss-making Bank of Baroda. Similarly, the State Bank of Mysore merged with SBI and Corporation Bank merged with Union Bank, leaving only one public sector bank with its head office in Karnataka,” he said.
He asserted that Congress has always supported a federal and decentralized vision of India, and strongly opposes “Amit Shah and the BJP’s efforts of centralized control”.
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)