Ex-BJP leader accused India’s “milkman” of religious conversion

AHMADABAD: Stroking controversy, a former BJP leader accused India’s “milkman” Dr Verghese Kurien of using Amul’s profits to fund missionaries involved in conversions.

Dileep Sanghani, who held agriculture and law portfolios in the Modi government in Gujarat at an event had alleged that the late founder-chairman of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation funded religious conversions by Christian missionaries from Amul‘s profits.

“Amul was founded by Tribhuvandas Patel, but does the country know about Tribhuvandas Patel? The money that Gujarat’s farmers and cattle rearers collected through their hard work, he (Kurien) donated it for religious conversions in Dangs (South Gujarat),” he said, reported IndiaTimes.

Kurien’s family has rubbished the claims and termed the allegations as laughable.

“My father was an atheist and (despite being a Christian) was cremated as per his wishes. So was my mother after her death,” Nirmala Kurien told a leading news agency after an event at the NDDB here to mark Dr Kurien’s 97th birth anniversary.

Dr R S Sodhi, the managing director of Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation in response to Sanghani’s charge said Dr Kurien’s religion was that of each farmer of the country.

When he died, “Me and my colleague went there and asked Nirmala and Mrs Kurien as to where he should be buried (since he was a Christian),” he had said.

“They told us that his wish was that he be cremated. He was cremated at the same place as Tribhuvandas Patel. After three months when Mrs. Kurien died in Mumbai, she was also cremated,” Sodhi had said.

Kurien made the ordinary, neighbourhood ‘doodhwala’ (milkman) a key player in the country’s struggle for economic development and progress at the grassroot level.

Kurien, the man who brought billion-litre idea”, Operation Flood – the world’s largest agricultural dairy development programme was born on November 26, 1921 in Kozhikode, Kerala, Kurien – and was destined to become India’s top ‘milkman’. He died on September 9, 2012.

Honoured as the architect of India’s White Revolution, which catapulted India to be the world’s largest milk producer, Kurien managed the feat in the 1970s at a time when it faced grim uncertainties over its food security.

Tribhuvandas Patel, the then chairman of Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers Union, popularly known as ‘Amul’, with whom Kurien had developed a good friendship, requested him to stay back in Anand for some more time and help him organise his co-operative society’s dairy equipment.

Kurien stayed back for a few more days…going on to become a legend through Operation Flood, launched in 1971.

with agency inputs