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Amul vs Nandini: Politicisation of Milk, and instigation of regional sentiments ahead of the Karnataka elections

In December 2022, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had called for greater co-operation between Amul and Nandini, which is owned by the Karnataka Milk Federation.

Ahead of the Karnataka assembly elections in May this year, social media is rife with misinformation about Amul taking over the State’s local dairy brand Nandini.

The controversy began on Wednesday (April 5) when the official Twitter handle of Amul posted an infographic with the caption, “The #Amul family is bringing in some Taaza into #Bengaluru city. More updates coming in soon. #LaunchAlert”.

The archive of the tweet can be accessed here. Soon after, vested political interests began trending hashtags such as ‘#GoBackAmul’ and ‘#SaveNandini’ on the micro-blogging platform.

In December 2022, Union Home Minister Amit Shah called for greater cooperation between Amul and Nandini, which is owned by the Karnataka Milk Federation.

While inaugurating a mega-dairy plant in Mandya, Amit Shah had said, “Amul and KMF together 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 from Rs 4 crore to Rs 25,000 crore. Amul and KMF have to work together to boost the cooperative dairy in Karnataka,” Shah further added.

His statement was deliberately misconstrued to suggest that Amul might buy Nandini in the near future and thus sell the local dairy brand to ‘North Indian businessmen.’ Some vested interests went on to claim that Amul is trying to ‘root out’ Nandini and thus undermine Kannadiga identity and culture.

The controversy was re-ignited after Amul tweeted about its plans to launch its brand in Bengaluru. Meanwhile, the Bruhat Bengaluru Hotels Association has vowed to use only Nandini milk to support Karnataka’s dairy farmers.

It must be mentioned that the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) is the second largest milk dairy in India, with over 2.4 million milk producer members and 14,000 milk producers’ cooperative societies.

Congress, JDS leaders add to the hysteria

Opposition political leaders in Karnataka are now trying to use the Amul-Nandini controversy to whip up regionalism ahead of the state elections. Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah even appealed to the Kannadigas to boycott the Amul brand.

While speaking about the matter, he said, “In addition to language treason by the imposition of Hindi and land treason by trespassing within the state borders, now the BJP government is going to betray the farmers by shutting down Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF), which is the livelihood of millions of dairy farming families in the country.”

Congress leader DK Shivakumar suggested a larger conspiracy in the entry of Amul into the Karnataka market. “We want to protect our milk and our farmers. We already have Nandini which is a better brand than Amul…We don’t need any Amul…our water, our milk, and our soil is strong,” he told ANI.

Janata Dal (Secular) leader H D Kumaraswamy also resorted to regionalism over the Amul-Nandini row.

“Amul is being pushed into Karnataka from the backdoor with the support of the Central government. Amul is strangulating the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) and the farmers. Kannada people should rebel against Amul,” he said.

“We as Kannadigas should oppose Amul and protect the interest of Karnataka farmers unitedly. Our people and customers should use Nandini products on priority and save the livelihood of farmers,” HD Kumaraswamy further claimed.

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Duttahttps://dibakardutta.in/
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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