Congress MP and General Secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday attacked the Centre alleging Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of controlling dairy cooperatives in states. Mr. Ramesh said Amul and Nandini are both national success stories of the "White Revolution". He said Congress helped nurture this decentralised vision over decades, empowering and ensuring autonomy to crores of dairy farmers.
"In sharp contrast, Amit Shah imagines a small collection of centralised organisations under his direct command and control. This is the agenda of the new Union Ministry of Cooperation which Shah heads. This is why he wishes that Amul will merge with five other cooperative societies to form a multi-state cooperative society involving 2 lakh rural diaries," the Congress veteran said.
Mr. Ramesh alleged that the central government is establishing total control, ignoring the Constitution which clearly demarcates cooperative societies as a state subject. Nandini, Amul, and other cooperatives like OMFED, Mother Dairy, Vijaya and Aavin, empower farmers and help them prosper, he said citing the example that the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF), which markets Nandini, is a federation of 14,000 cooperative societies organised into 14 unions.
"Its 24 lakh members earn over ₹17 crores a day. 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," Mr. Ramesh said. 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, he said.
"Decisions will not be made in Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar, Chennai or Pune, but in Delhi by Amit Shah, the Minister of Cooperation. This will disempower dairy farmers and will ultimately threaten their incomes and livelihoods," he 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. Decisions about the development of Karnataka previously made in Mysuru, Mangaluru and Bengaluru are now being made in Baroda and Mumbai, the Congress leader said. He said Congress strongly opposes Amit Shah and the "BJP's efforts of centralised control." Mr. Ramesh said Congress will not allow the time to come when the BJP may raise the slogan of "One Nation, One Milk".