Amul-Nandini was made emotional issue due to polls, Amul entered Karnataka during Cong regime: Nirmala Sitharaman

Bengaluru: To suddenly say Amul is being brought to Karnataka to kill Nandini is “brazen”, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Sunday, as she alleged that the Gujarat-based dairy cooperative had entered the state when Congress was in power here.

The Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) sells milk, curd and other dairy products under the brand name Nandini.

“In India’s scheme of things, every state has its own milk cooperative. Karnataka’s Nandini – whoever doesn’t recognise it? Even now as I’ve come, I had Nandini milk, curd, peda… Of course in Delhi I’ll buy Amul. I represent Karnataka (but) in Delhi, if Nandini isn’t available, I’m mentally not a sanyasi to say I won’t drink milk if Nandini isn’t available. I still buy Amul. That’s not being against Karnataka,” Sitharaman said.

Strengthening Nandini and dairy farmers in Karnataka had never been a question, she said, adding that it would continue to happen. Nandini too sold its products in other states such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh just like other state dairies’ products are also available in Karnataka, she pointed out.

“Good competition I would say… The idea is therefore to strengthen India in every aspect. That’s why India became the world’s largest milk producer,” she said.

The minister was responding to a question regarding the Amul-Nandini controversy, during the interaction with Thinkers Forum, Karnataka here.

Stating that to falsely and suddenly say Amul was being brought to kill Nandini was “brazen”, she said. “Amul entered Karnataka when there was a Congress government here. I’m not sure I should name the Chief Minister at that time. The same respected former CM is now questioning Amul’s entry. It was in his time Amul entered North Karnataka for marketing in those areas.

“This, strictly speaking, is tweaked, twisted and made an emotional issue because it is election time,” she alleged, adding that “instead of building a healthy competition and a positive narrative” the issue was twisted, “and our farmers and women need not be brought into a political issue”.

Karnataka’s milk farmers need to be supported, Sitharaman said, giving credit to former Karnataka CM B S Yediyurappa’s government for having raised the procurement price of milk for the first time. He gave Rs 2 more per litre. Later subsequent governments too did their bit.

“Again the current BJP government increased it to Rs 5. So, support to milk-giving farmers will continue,” she said. Farmers and those engaged in animal husbandry are also given many other facilities by the Centre, she added.