Amid clarification from the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) over merger with Amul, the political slugfest between the BJP and Congress continued on Sunday. While the BJP leaders, including Cooperation Minister S.T. Somashekar, refuted claims of merger, Congress continued to attack the BJP of attempting to weaken the State’s cooperative milk federation.
“There is no proposal to merge KMF with Amul. At Gejjalgere in Mandya, Home Minister Amit Shah had spoken about cooperation between the cooperatives in terms of technology and marketing,” the Minister told reporters here. Stating that KMF is capable enough to meet any cooperation, he said that it is impossible for any other organisation to compete with KMF and win. “The State government is providing maximum support to the federation. Congress is only politicising the issue for electoral benefits.”
Stating that the government was committed to protecting the State’s dairy industry, BJP MLC N. Ravi Kumar said the Anti-cow Slaughter Act was brought for the same reason, and pointed out that it was the Opposition parties that voted against the Bill.
Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that devotion to cow did not mean to provide licence to beef exports. “The sale of Amul products should be respectfully withdrawn. The attack by Gujaratis on Karnataka should be stopped. While the Nandini products have seen a decline since Mr. Amit Shah spoke of merger, Amul sales have increased. The milk procurement has declined in Karnataka since BJP came to power, and dairy farmers are in distresss. Farmers are losing about ₹11 crore daily due to reduced procurement,” he said in a statement.
Former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor told presspersons that the sentiments of people with respect to Nandini has to be heard. He, however, said: “If we start getting too protectionist, we may not be helping our national economy. I can understand the concerns of those working in Karnataka contributing to success and quality of Nandini brand, and their concerns have to be taken into consideration as well. Let them (government) find a way.”
AICC spokesperson Gaurav Vallabh accused BJP leaders of acting against KMF and asked what was wrong with the product. “Why is unhealthy competition being introduced between two cooperatives?”