It's Amul vs Nandini in poll-bound Karnataka: How the row started and who said what
With Karnataka assembly elections exactly a month away, a new political controversy has erupted in the state over the entry of Amul, the Gujarat state milk cooperative brand, into the poll-bound southern state. The Opposition--Congress and the JD(S) have alleged that Amul’s entry, backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), would pose a threat to the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) brand 'Nandini', which is closely tied to the identity of Kannadigas. Amid attacks from the Congress, the BJP on Sunday claimed that Amul was not entering Karnataka.
HOW NANDINI VS AMUL ROW ERUPTED
The milk war in the poll-bound state started with a tweet from dairy giant Amul stating that Gujarat-based Amul will start online deliveries in Bengaluru. The announcement did not go down well with those associated with the state's own formidable dairy brand, Nandini. They also see it as an attempt to trample upon KMF, amid a narrative around its merger with Amul.
The controversy also apparently stemmed from a statement by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Mandya on the coming together of two milk cooperatives. But the BJP had cleared the air on it, stating that the statement did not mean a merger of the two cooperatives.
Recently, in a tweet, Amul said, "A new wave of freshness with milk and curd is coming to Bengaluru. More information coming soon. #LaunchAlert. From Kengeri to Whitefield, wishing everyone a Taaza day."
In another tweet, the dairy brand said, "The #Amul family is bringing in some Taaza into #Bengaluru city. More updates coming in soon. #LaunchAlert. Taaza arriving soon in Bengaluru."
After the announcement, hashtags such as #GoBackAmul, #SaveNandini have been trending on Twitter. One of the growing concerns among some sections of Kannadigas is that the entry of Amul in Karnataka will pose a threat to the state's home-grown brand Nandini.
Reports of Amul making its foray into Karnataka's dairy market has ruffled the feathers of many sections, particularly that of dairy farmers, opposition leaders and pro-Kannada groups.
GROWING SUPPORT FOR NANDINI
In a protest against the Amul milk, the hotels in Bengaluru city will be using only Nandini brand to "support the state's (dairy) farmers".
Bruhat Bengaluru Hotels Association, without naming Amul, said Kannadigas should only promote Nandini milk products.
"We are all proud of Karnataka's Nandini milk produced by our farmers and it should be encouraged. In our city, clean and delicious coffee stands as the backbone of snacks. And we encourage it with great pride. It has been heard that milk from other states is being shipped to Karnataka recently. We are all Nandini," read a statement from Bruhat Bengaluru Hotels Association.
Karnataka Rakshana Vedike protested to oppose the sale of Amul milk in Karnataka and encourage Nandini products.
Moreover, Nandini being a home-grown brand and available at a cheap price gives it an upper-hand over Amul in poll-bound Karnataka. According to suppliers, the milk prices of Nandini Dairy remain one of the lowest at just Rs 39 per litre. Meanwhile, customers need to shell out Rs 54 per litre for Amul toned milk in Delhi and Rs 52 per litre in Gujarat.
WHO SAID WHAT?
The Amul-Nandini war has now snowballed into a political controversy with the Congress accusing the BJP of destroying the “state’s pride”. Meanwhile, the BJP has accused the Congress of unleashing a "misinformation campaign", asserting that it has done far more than the opposition party to strengthen the KMF, whose products are sold under the brand name Nandini.
Congress leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah said, "All Kannadigas should pledge not to buy Amul products". "All Kannadigas have to unanimously resist the usurpation of the KMF, which has been built for the welfare of the farmers of the country. All Kannadigas should pledge not to buy Amul products", Siddaramaiah said.
The Congress veteran on Sunday tweeted asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was visiting Karnataka on Sunday, whether the purpose of his visit was "to loot the state".
"It was Gujarat's Baroda Bank that subsumed our Vijaya Bank. Ports and Airports were handed over to Gujarat's Adani. Now, Amul from Gujarat is planning to eat our KMF (Nandini). Mr Narendra Modi, Are we the enemies of Gujaratis?," senior Congress leader said.
Shortly after Siddaramaiah's swipe at PM Modi, BJP's IT department head Amit Malviya said Amul is not entering Karnataka.
"Amul is NOT entering Karnataka. Both Amul and KMF sell their products across quick-commerce platforms. KMF's turnover went up by (Rs) 10,000 crore after BJP came to power in 2019. In 2022, turnover stood at (Rs) 25,000 crore, of which (Rs) 20,000 crore went back to farmers of Karnataka," Amit Malviya tweeted.
Amid the row over Amul’s entry into the state, Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar told India Today, "We want our rights, our land, our soil, our water and our milk to be protected. We don’t want the Gujarat model. We have a Karnataka model here."
On Monday, DK Shivakumar visited Nandini Milk parlour in Hassan amid controversy over Amul's entry into the state.
Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai has maintained that there should be no politics over Amul, adding that Nandini will become the number one brand in the country. He also rejected the idea of blocking Amul milk and curd from entering Bengaluru.
"Nandini products are being sold in other states too. The government will take steps to help Nandini compete with Amul in the open market, but it will not block the Gujarat-based brand," Bommai told reporters in Delhi.
"Nandini is a very good brand of our state...Congress and JD(S) doing politics at the time of elections," the chief minister said.
State Cooperation Minister S T Somashekar on Sunday reiterated that there was no proposal to merge KMF with Amul.
"If Amul sells milk online at Rs 57 per litre, we sell it at Rs 39. We are sending our products to Tamil Nadu and other states," he said, adding that it was impossible to erase the Nandini brand.
BJP MP Tejasvi Surya launched a scathing attack on Opposition, saying that people in Karnataka clearly know that it is not love for Nandini but their hate towards Amul as it is from Gujarat. He said Amit Shah and Narendra Modi are from Gujarat, hence, Congress is using it to fuel the election campaign.
Also hopping onto the ‘Amul versus Nandini’ bandwagon was HD Kumaraswamy of the JD(S), who slammed Amul for allegedly trying to take over the Nandini brand.
"In a situation where KMF Nandini's milk, ghee and butter are not available in all parts of the state, what does this development of Gujarat's Amul company for online marketing indicate? Doesn't this feel like a black shadow on the work of countless Kannadigas who sustain on Nandini's milk?" JDS said on Twitter.
JD(S) second-in-command HD Kumaraswamy took a jibe at the PM Modi-led government with a "one nation, one Amul" remark. "One nation, one Amul, one milk and one Gujarat' has become the official policy of the Central government. Hence, Amul is strangulating KMF by standing in its support," he tweeted in Kannada.
The fresh controversy comes barely a week after opposition leaders and pro-Kannada groups slammed the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) for imposing Hindi on Nandini products by adding the term 'Dahi' followed by the local nomenclature 'Mosaru' (meaning curd). However, amid intense backlash, the FSSAI rolled back the decision and said milk federations can use the term 'Curd' followed by the local nomenclature in brackets.
Karnataka goes to polls on May 10, and the counting of votes is scheduled for May 13.