Following a South First report on why the row over Amul and Nandini in Karnataka should be looked through the prism of federalism, the Congress on Wednesday, 12 April, accused the BJP of forcing cooperation between dairy cooperatives to eventually control them.
Ever since Amul announced its launch of fresh milk and curd in the Bengaluru retail market, farmers, leaders of Opposition parties, and activists alike in Karnataka have accused the Gujarat-based dairy cooperative of violating an unwritten understanding between cooperatives not to compete in each other’s market for daily consumption products.
The Union government’s push for multi-state dairies has also given rise to suspicions about whether the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) would be allowed to function as an independent cooperative in the long run.
South First detailed the chronology of the Union government’s decisions and Union Home and Cooperation Minister Amit Shah’s statements pushing for multi-state dairy cooperatives since 2021.
Since cooperatives are clearly under the state list as per the Constitution, the Congress’s Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka and AICC Communications in-charge Jairam Ramesh has alleged that the BJP was forcing cooperation between state-run cooperatives in a “brazen move” to control the cooperative societies in various states.
Amit Shah’s enforced "cooperation" b/w Nandini & Amul is a pretext to merge dairy co-ops into a multi-state cooperative under his command & control.@INCIndia will protect interests of dairy farmers against this Modi-Shah absurdity of ‘One Nation, One Milk’ only to benefit BJP. pic.twitter.com/e9lFOM71Kl
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) April 12, 2023
Related: Point in the Amul-Nandini row is the question of federalism
“… 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,” said Ramesh in an open letter.
He also alleged that it was an effort by the BJP to make the dairy unions a political arm of the saffron party.
“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.
Related: #SaveNandini, #BoycottAmul campaign gains momentum
Ramesh also said that the same pattern was followed during the merging of Vijaya Bank and Bank of Mysore with other central banks.
“This pattern has been seen before in Karnataka. For example, we saw Vijaya Bank, one of the most successful public sector banks, merged with the lossmaking Bank of Baroda. Similarly, the State Bank of Mysore merged with the SBI and Corporation Bank merged with Union Bank, leaving only one public sector bank with its head office in Karnataka,” he said in the letter.
“Decisions about the development of Karnataka previously made in Mysuru, Mangaluru, and Bengaluru are now being made in Baroda and Mumbai,” he added.
Jairam Ramesh also said that the dairy cooperatives in various states — part of the “White Revolution” started by Dr Varghese Kurien — were meant to empower farmers, but the BJP was trying to “replace the farmers’ control” by merging the historic societies.