Days after former BJP minister Dileep Sanghani had alleged that Dr Verghese Kurien, the founder chairman of the National Dairy Development Board and the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, funded religious conversions by Christian missionaries by donating funds from Amul, his daughter Nirmala Kurien on Monday said that her father was an atheist and followed no religion.
“My father was an atheist and religion played no part in his life. He was cremated according to his wishes and so was my mother a few months later,” Nirmala Kurien said at an event here to celebrate the 97th birth anniversary of Dr Kurien, the father of White Revolution in India. Dr Kurien had died in 2012.
Without mentioning Sanghani’s remark, she said that Dr Kurien worked his whole life “as an employee of the farmers”.
At a reception hosted to commemorate Dr Kurien in Amreli on Saturday, Sanghani, the vice chairman of National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation (NAFED), had said, “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).”
On Monday, Nirmala said: “He (Dr Kurien) dedicated his life in bringing a positive change in the socio-economic status of the farmers. My father loved and respected Tribhuvandas kaka (Tribhuvandas Patel) like his father; he had lost his father when he was very young. My father’s greatest worry was that IRMA would churn out hundred more Kuriens but where were we going to find a Tribuvandas as he was the rarest of the rare politician you could find — honest, patriotic, fair and noble. Dada believed in empowering farmers, and he never doubted their ability to work hard and produce more and more.”
Urging people to celebrate National Milk Day, Nirmala said, “My father believed that India’s place in the sun would come from the partnership between the wisdom of rural people and the skills of professionals. I just thought that my father worked at the dairy as a general manager, but as I grew up, I listened to my father speak and read, and slowly realised that he was in the business of developing people, and milk was only a tool.”
“He had no doubt that India would one day be among the most powerful nations in the world. But he worried that 70 per cent of our people who were mostly small and marginal farmers, landless labourers, should be given the opportunity to earn more and the divide between the haves and the have-nots must not be allowed to grow wider but should disappear all together. He believed in an inclusive economy. My father chose to live in Anand for almost 64 years. He worked, lived and died in his beloved Gujarat,” she added.
During the event hosted by Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) Ltd that markets the popular brand Amul, chairman Ramsinh Parmar remembered Dr Kurien as a man of vision. Reacting to Sanghani’s remark, Parmar, who quit the Congress last year and joined the BJP, said: “Such statements are baseless and should not be promoted. Dr Kurien is a blessing for the farmers and cattle rearers and the rural population. He devoted his entire life for their uplift and worked hard to make their lives prosperous. In the 30 years of my life that I have known him, I dont even remember him going to a church ever.”