After staying without a chairman for over six months, the board of the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) finally elected Jethabhai Patel, a veteran cooperative leader in the state, as its new chairman at a meeting held in Anand on Friday.
Patel has served as the head of the Sabarkantha District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Limited, or Sabar Dairy, as it is popularly called, at Himatnagar twice over. Sabar Dairy has an annual sales turnover exceeding Rs 2,400 crore and membership of 3.6 lakh milk producers.
Patel has been on this post twice and has strong links with the ruling BJP party. A veteran cooperative leader, Patel has also served as the chairman of the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC), Himatnagar and director of Sabarkantha District Central Cooperative Bank Ltd., Himatnagar, in the last two decades.
During the meeting of the board of the GCMMF held at Anand on Friday, Patel’s name was proposed by Parthibhai Bhatol, chairman of
Banaskantha Dairy Union, Palanpur, and seconded by Ramsinh Parmar, chairman of Kaira Milk marketing Producers Union and Congress MLA from Thasra constituency in Kaira district.
The board of the Asia’s largest dairy cooperative, GCMMF consists of 17 members who represent as chairmen of as many dairy co-operatives in the state. While most of the members are directly or indirectly affiliated with the BJP, Congress’ only representative,
Parmar was left with no choice but to support the decision of the board so that the election could remain unanimous, in the line of the GCMMF tradition.
Patel’s election comes nearly six-and-half months after the previous chairman, Vipul Chaudhary was unceremoniously removed by a majority Board members belonging to the BJP. The board had brought in a no-confidence meeting against him on December 5 last year after he was found cosying up with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. The BJP supporting members had opposed his move.
The only Congress member in the board, Anand Dairy’s Ramsinh Parmar had supported him.
Chaudhary had moved the High Court against the decision, but the court dismissed the appeal against his ouster on January 11 this year. Chaudhary’s overtures to Gandhi was seen as the main reason for his ouster, but charges of corruption against the function of the Dudhsagar Dairy that he headed was also seen as playing the part.
Chaudhary was also made the chairman of the GCMMF after Bhatol proposed his name for the same. He had become the chairman of the GCMMF after seeking support of the BJP and Congress backed member,s before the BJP-backed members fell out with him.
GCMMF is India’s largest food products marketing organisation with annual turnover of Rs.18,143 crore during year 2013-14. It markets a wide range of milk and milk products under the brand name “Amul” and “Sagar.” Member unions of GCMMF are procuring on an average of 132 lac litres of milk everyday from 33 lac milk producers from more than 17,000 villages of the state.