Congress retained its control over the country’s oldest dairy co-operative union, the Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union, popularly known as Amul Dairy, by winning nine out of eleven seats for which results were declared Wednesday, paving the way for Congress MLA Ramsinh Parmar to become its chairman for the fourth time in a row. Of the 17 dairy cooperative unions in the state that are represented on the board of the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), the body that markets Amul brand of milk and milk products, Amul Dairy is the only one under Congress control. The rest of the 16 milk unions are under the BJP control.
A total 30 contestants were in the fray for 13 seats, with each seat divided on the basis of blocks where one block comprised around 100 milk societies. Amul Dairy represents milk societies from three districts — Kheda, Anand and parts of Mahisagar. The members of two seats won uncontested while an independent candidate won one of the eleven seats for which elections were held. Amul Vikas Panel, represented by members affiliated to Congress, won nine out of 11 seats, while BJP-led Amul Parivartan Panel won one seat. One seat went to an independent candidate, returning officer and deputy collector B S Patel said.
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Vipul Patel, the chairman of the Nadiad Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), represented the BJP-panel. Results were declared for eleven seats as Parmar and Vipul Patel had remained uncontested on Thasra and Matar seats, respectively.
The win at Amul Dairy comes as a respite for Congress which faced strong challenge from the BJP, which managed to make fresh inroads by winning two seats. Previously, Congress-affiliated members held control over all 13 seats on the board of Amul Dairy. The Rajkot District Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union, once a Congress stronghold, landed in the BJP’s kitty when its chairman, Govindbhai Ranpariya, who served as a district Congress president, joined the BJP, along with Vitthal Radadiya in 2013. Congress leader Narendra Patel, who headed Baroda Dairy with full majority between 2009 and 2012, was himself defeated in 2012, with the party barely managing to retain power with outside support. In August 2014 election, BJP MLA Dinesh Patel took over as the chairman, ending Congress control.
Vipul Chaudhary, who projected himself as party neutral, won the chairmanship of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation with the support of the BJP, but was later ousted after he was seen siding with the Congress. He also had to give up the chairmanship of Mehsana Dairy, following his removal from GCMMF.
“This is the first election of a dairy union in the state that was held after amendments in the Gujarat Cooperative Societies Act came into effect. Among other changes, the seats were divided on the basis of blocks, each block consisting of around a hundred milk societies. Previously, one voter would cast his vote for all 13 seats. Now, he can cast his vote for only one seat on the basis of the milk society that he represents. Also, the tenure of the board will be of five years as against three years previously,” Patel said.
Elections were held on Tuesday after a gap of nearly 6 years, as no elections could be held in 2012 owing to the litigation in the High Court against amendments in the state Cooperative Societies Act. Among the winners were Tejas Patel from Patlad, who contested as an independent candidate, and Rajesh Pathak from Balasinor, who defeated Congress MLA from Balasinor, Mansinh Chauhan. The Congress won Anand, Khambhat, Borsad, Thasra, Kathlal, Kapadvanj, Mahemadavad, Nadiaid, and Virpur seats, along with one seat of promoters of the dairy.
Talking to The Indian Express, Parmar, who is all set to be selected as the chairman of the new board of the Amul Dairy, said that the BJP members managed to win two seats and an independent candidate held control over one seat because of changes in the Act which he had contested in the High Court. “The division of seats on the basis of blocks made the fight straight, giving opportunity to the BJP to win two seats. Earlier, the voters had to vote for general seats. Changes in the pattern of voting made it possible for the BJP to win two seats,” he said.