KMF hasn’t supplied ghee to TTD since 2021-22; Congress and BJP trade ‘anti-Hindu’ jibes

BJP called Congress government 'anti-Hindu', accusing it of 'indifferent attitude towards temples, Hindus', only for it to boomerang.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Aug 01, 2023 | 10:11 PMUpdatedAug 02, 2023 | 6:24 PM

KMF's Nandini Ghee and the famous Tirumala laddu. (Creative Commons)

Even as politics took centre stage over the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) no longer supplying ghee to make the iconic laddu prasad of the world-famous Tirumala temple in Tirupati, KMF Managing Director (MD) Jagadish told South First that the cooperative stopped supply to the temple way back in 2021-2022.

The Opposition BJP had accused the Congress government of being “anti-Hindu” and displaying an “indifferent attitude towards temples and Hindus” after KMF Chairman Bheema Naik had said on Sunday that KMF hadn’t bid for the tender floated by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which manages the temple.

Related: TTD says it chose another supplier over KMF, but does not name it

BJP accusation boomerangs

The BJP’s accusations boomeranged when details emerged that the KMF stopped supplying ghee to TTD more than a year ago — when BJP was in power in the state — and the development did not come about after the change of government in Karnataka.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, on Tuesday, 1 August, said the supply of KMF’s Nandini brand ghee to make the famous Tirupati laddus at the renowned Tirupati Venkateswara temple in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended one-and-half years ago, during the BJP government’s tenure.

Siddaramaiah hit back at state BJP President Nalin Kumar Kateel, who had accused the Congress government of stopping the supply of ghee, due to its “policy of indifference towards temples, and Hindu beliefs and devotion”.

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“The supply of Nandini ghee to Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh has not been stopped today or yesterday. The supply of ghee to Tirupati was suspended one-and-a-half years ago, during the @BJP4Karnataka government’s tenure,” Siddaramaiah tweeted.

“Honorable Member of Parliament @nalinkateel, tell me now, was the previous BJP government against Hindu religious beliefs and devotion? Or was only the then Chief Minister @BSBommai (Basavaraj Bommai) anti-Hindu?” Siddaramaiah asked.

“The life of the dairy farmers is important to us along with the religious faith of the people. Therefore, if the Tirupati temple agrees to give the price we ask for, in the interest of the state’s farmers, we have no problem in supplying ghee,” he added.

“KMF, which sells its products under the brand name Nandini and is known for its quality, and it cannot compromise on the price, and hence did not participate in the tender process as required by the TTD,” KMF Chairman Naik had said on Sunday.

Naik, a former Congress MLA, on Monday clarified that the supply of ghee to the TTD had been stopped for more than a year now and is not a “recent occurrence”.

State BJP chief Nalin Kumar Kateel, in a tweet, had accused the Congress government of stopping supply of ghee from KMF for the Tirupati Laddu. “Nandini ghee supply to Tirupati Laddu has been stopped due to @INCKarnataka policy of indifference towards temple, and Hindu beliefs and devotion. 50 years of legacy with Tirupati is watered down and this proves @siddaramaiah’s policy of indifference towards Hindus,” Kateel had tweeted.

Related: Why Amul’s Andhra Pradesh entry has sparked a political slugfest

KMF clarifies on timelines, costs

KMF’s MD Jagadish told South First how the process unfolded.

“We had participated in the tender processes, but TTD would choose the L1 — the lowest bidder. Why would they (TTD) choose L2 or L3? Earlier, in 2021-2022, KMF’s quote was ₹392 per kg of ghee, and TTD went for another bidder as they found KMF’s ghee to be expensive. This year (2022-2023) KMF’s ghee has been quoted between ₹400 and ₹450, and they (TTD) certainly went for another bidder. As Nandini is known for its quality and we procure raw materials that are of expected standards, the costing would simply not work for us,” Jagadish said.

He added that KMF had stopped supply to TTD in 2021-2022, when it did not win the tender bid.

The MD also explained that the KMF is an independent entity and there is no connection with the government — be it that of Congress, BJP, or any other party.

“We do not seek approval from the government for participating in tenders, or supply of our products or components to our consumers or retailers,” Jagadish said, adding “there is nothing political to it”.

Sources in KMF told South First that the federation has been participating in tenders of TTD since 2005 and has been supplying ghee for making laddu prasad in Tirupathi temple.

Every year, the quantity of supply varies depending on the requirements such as during festivals or special events or other occasions.

A year before KMF stopped its ghee supply to the TTD in 2021-2022, around 345 metric tonnes of ghee was being supplied by KMF to TTD, sources told South First.