Tirumala temple to stop using Nandini ghee for its iconic laddus

Tirumala temple to stop using Nandini ghee for its iconic laddus

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), the trust that oversees the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple in Andhra Pradesh, has reportedly given its ghee tender to a company other than the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) for the first time in 50 years.

The development came following a price hike in Nandini milk products, the brand operated by KMF. On Thursday (July 27), the Karnataka government gave its nod to increase the price of Nandini milk by ₹3 per litre.

In a statement, Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah said, “The milk [toned] that costs ₹39 will be sold at ₹42 per litre from August 1. Elsewhere, it is sold between ₹54 and ₹56 per litre. In Tamil Nadu, the price is ₹44 per litre.”

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) had reportedly been calling for a bidding process for the tender for ghee supply from the past year. Karnataka Milk Foundation President Bima Nayak said that it was not possible for them to supply milk at a lower price.

He emphasised “As we announced a hike in the milk price from August 1, the ghee prices will also go up. The TTD has found a new company which provides them ghee to make Tirupati Laddus at a cheaper price.” As such, the laddus of the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple will not be prepared from Nandini ghee but from a different milk brand.

“So, after many years, we had to stop the supply of Nandini ghee to TTD…I think that the laddus will not be the same anymore. I can also assure that Nandini provides the best ghee in the market and goes through all quality checks. If any brand is supplying ghee for a lesser price than Nandini, I assume that the quality will be compromised,” he claimed.

Congress and its politics over Amul and Nandini

In December 2022, Union Home Minister Amit Shah called for greater cooperation between Amul and Nandini, which is owned by the Karnataka Milk Federation. While inaugurating a mega-dairy plant in Mandya, Amit Shah said, “Amul and KMF together will work together towards ensuring there is a primary dairy in every village of the state.”

“In 47 years, Karnataka has progressed in the dairy sector and the turnover has increased from Rs 4 crore to Rs 25,000 crore. Amul and KMF have to work together to boost the cooperative dairy in Karnataka,” Shah further added.

His statement was deliberately misconstrued to suggest that Amul might buy Nandini in the near future and thus sell the local dairy brand to ‘North Indian businessmen.’ Some vested interests went on to claim that Amul is trying to ‘root out’ Nandini and thus undermine Kannadiga identity and culture.

The controversy was re-ignited after Amul tweeted in April 2023 about its plans to launch its brand in Bengaluru. Opposition political leaders in Karnataka used the Amul-Nandini controversy to whip up regionalism ahead of the state elections.

At that time, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah even appealed to the Kannadigas to boycott the Amul brand. He tweeted, “In addition to language treason by the imposition of Hindi and land treason by trespassing within the state borders, now the BJP government is going to betray the farmers by shutting down Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF), which is the livelihood of millions of dairy farming families in the country.”

Congress leader DK Shivakumar suggested a larger conspiracy in the entry of Amul into the Karnataka market. Janata Dal (Secular) leader H D Kumaraswamy also resorted to regionalism over the Amul-Nandini row.

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