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Explainer: Amul vs Nandini Battle Heats up in Poll-Bound Karnataka

The people of the state have an emotional connect with Nandini, the Rs 21,000 crore brand from the Karnataka Milk Federation.
Amul & nandini

Bengaluru: As the Amul vs Nandini battle heats up in poll-bound Karnataka, at the heart of a seemingly corporate war is the Kannadiga pride and the rural economy dependent on the home-grown brand and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may have to do a tightrope walking to steer clear of the issue that may well dominate the political narrative in the coming days, much as it has hogged the limelight over the weekend.

What is the Amul Vs Nandini battle? Why does the Opposition see red over the Gujarat dairy brand's Bengaluru foray with its brand of milk and curd. An explainer seeks to shed light on the issue.

Gujarat-based dairy cooperative Amul's announcement on April 5 to enter enter the Karnataka market to supply its milk and curd has given the Opposition yet another ammunition to fire at the ruling BJP, much as it came months after Union Home Minister Amit Shah's announcement that the two brands' cooperation could "do wonders" for the dairy sector. Shah also holds the Cooperation portfolio.

The Opposition Congress and the JD(S) have trained their guns at the ruling BJP in the state when the Assembly elections are just a month away, expressing fears that Nandini, the Rs 21,000 crore brand, from the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF), could be merged with the Gujarat-based Amul. The people of the state have an emotional connect with Nandini.

The Opposition alleges that BJP wants to merge the 49-year-old KMC's Nandini with its much elder Anand Milk Union Limited (AMUL) so that there could be "One nation, one Amul" in the country. The BJP has emphatically rejected the charge.

AICC general secretary and Karnataka party in-charge Randeep Surjewala alleged the BJP was trying to "sell off" Nandini.

Former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy, too, flayed the state government on this issue.

Kumaraswamy, the JD(S) second-in-command, alleged Amul has this 'bad thinking' to finish off its lone competitor Nandini in Karnataka itself.

The BJP led central government's official policy is "One Nation, One Amul, One Milk and One Gujarat," he said.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the government is clear on the issue of Amul. Accusing Congress of “politicising” Amul's entry to Karnataka, Bommai said: "We have absolute clarity with regard to Amul. Nandini is a national brand. It is not restricted to Karnataka. We have popularised Nandini as a brand in other states as well."

While a litre of Nandini's toned milk costs Rs 39, the same quantity of Amul is priced at Rs 52.

Why Amul's announcement to sell its milk and curd in Karnataka has become an issue?

In December last, Amit Shah during the inauguration of KMF's mega dairy in Mandya, said the "cooperation between Amul and Nandini can do wonders in the dairy sector". The Opposition called it a plan to merge Nandini with Gujarat, which the ruling BJP in Karnataka rubbished.

In the last week of March this year, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) directed to write "Dahi" in Hindi on curd packets apart from the local nomenclature, which the Opposition parties called an imposition of the language. The FSSAI revised its order after protests.

Wasn't Amul operating in Karnataka before?

Amul had been selling its butter, ghee, yogurt and ice cream in the state for a very long time. Not just Amul, there are some other dairy brands selling packaged milk and curd such as Dodla and Heritage (Telangana), Tirumala, Arokya and Milky Mist (TN), Namdhari and Akshayakalpa (Karnataka).

What is the Opposition's fear?

The Opposition parties charge that the government will create scarcity of Nandini products, making it less competitive to Amul and force people to buy Amul products once its milk and curd are allowed to be sold.

What is the BJP government's defence?

It has dismissed the charge saying there is no plan to merge Nandini with Amul. Chief Minister Bommai alleged Congress and JD(S) were “trying to mislead people and create fear” among them. He claimed milk production increased during the current saffron party rule.

Is there any decline in milk production?

The Bangalore Milk Union Limited (BAMUL), part of KMF, admitted production has declined owing to summer, which happens every year. Milk production has reduced from 90 lakh litres a day to 75 lakh litres a day.

What is the size of Nandini's business?

The second largest cooperative institution after Amul, Nandini is a Rs 21,000 crore brand of the KMF, according to BAMUL director P Nagaraju. He adds Amul produces 1.8 crore litres of milk everyday while the KMF produces over 90 lakh litres a day.

Why is Nandini a market leader?

Nagaraju says milk prices are competitive, quality is superior with zero adulteration, good network of milk producers and milk union and people's pride in the products.

Where else does KMF sell its products other than Karnataka?

Nandini products are sold in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Maharashtra. Some of its products are exported too.

If Nandini can sell its products in other states, what is wrong in Amul doing business in Karnataka?

According to Nagaraju, Maharashtra State Cooperative Milk Federation Limited, also known as Mahanand Dairy, is not doing good business ever since Amul entered the market. Similarly, the cooperative milk federations did not pick up much in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

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