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BJP’s milkmen prove their ‘doodh shakti’

The 2022 assembly election was a litmus test for at least a dozen-odd ‘dudhwalas’ from Gujarat’s dairy co-operatives who were fighting to get a footing in the state’s governance. As results were declared on Thursday, milkmen linked with BJP emerged as clear winners while those linked with Congress or were contesting as independents tasted defeat.

Interestingly, the election for the new assembly was held at a time when senior BJP leader Amit Shah is heading the newly created Union ministry of cooperation. As the then home minister of Gujarat, Shah was instrumental in turning the board of the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) into ‘Congress mukt’. Once dominated by Congress leaders, all the 18 heads of milk unions, who are members of GCMMF’s board, are now linked with BJP.

The 2022 mandate also reflects that BJP has retained its hold on the strong network of 18,000-plus village-level milk societies that have nearly 36 lakh families of dairy farmers as its backbone.
Shankar Chaudhary, chairman of Asia’s largest dairy – Banas Dairy – who was contesting from Tharad won the election this time. Chaudhary in 2017 had lost the poll fray when he was contesting from Vav in North Gujarat’s Banaskantha district which is home to Banas Dairy, a member union of GCMMF.

Sardar Chaudhary, a board member in Dudhsagar Dairy, whom BJP had fielded from Kheralu, also won. The lone independent candidate to win with the background of dairy co-operatives in North Gujarat is Mavji Desai, former vice-chairman of Banas Dairy, who after rebelling from BJP, had contested from Dhanera. But for BJP, the biggest victory came from Thasra in Kheda district where it had never won a poll. BJP gave ticket to Yogendra Parmar, son of Amul Dairy’s chairman Ramsinh, veteran cooperative leader, who had crossed over to the saffron camp from Congress ahead of the 2017 assembly polls. Ironically, none of the milkmen in Amul Dairy’s board who were contesting the assembly polls from Congress could make their mark.

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