‘Amul-Nandini made an emotional issue for K’taka polls’: Sitharaman

Bengaluru, April 23 (IANS) Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday alleged that Amul-Nandini had been made an emotional issue in Karnataka in view of Assembly elections scheduled next month.
She said that “things were tweaked, twisted and made an emotional issue because it is election time in Karnataka”.
Assembly elections in Karnataka are scheduled to be held on May 10.
The Union Minister said that to suddenly say that Amul is being brought to Karnataka to kill Nandini is ‘brazen’.
She alleged that the Anand Milk Union Limited (Amul), the Gujarat-based dairy cooperative, had entered Karnataka when the Congress was in power.
“Amul entered Karnataka when there was a Congress-led government here. I’m not sure if I should name the Chief Minister of 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,” she said.
The Finance Minister was responding to a question regarding the Amul-Nandini controversy, during the interaction with Thinkers Forum, Karnataka here.
Amul-Nandini has become a key issue ahead of the elections, as the opposition Congress and JD-S have alleged that the ruling BJP is trying to finish off Nandini by merging it with Amul.
The Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) sells milk, curd and other dairy products under the brand name Nandini.
“This, strictly speaking, is tweaked, twisted and made an emotional issue because it is election time. Instead of building a healthy competition and a positive narrative, the issue was twisted,” she said.
“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,” Sitharaman said.
“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,” she added.
She pointed out Nandini too sells its products in other states such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh just like other state dairies’ products are also available in Karnataka.
“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.
She clarified that strengthening Nandini and dairy farmers in Karnataka would continue to happen.
She observed that farmers and women need not be brought into a political issue.
Stating that Karnataka’s milk farmers need to be supported, Sitharaman claimed that it was the BJP government headed by B.S. Yediyurappa which raised the procurement price of milk for the first time.
“Again, the current BJP government increased it to Rs 5. So, support to milk-giving farmers will continue,” she said.

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