Gujarat BJP leader and former state minister Dileep Sanghani has alleged that Dr Verghese Kurien, the late 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.
Speaking at Amar Dairy in Amreli on Saturday, at a motorcycle rally organised by Amul to retrace the life and works of Dr Kurien, Sanghani 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).”
As state minister from 2007-2012, Sanghani was in charge of the agriculture, cooperation and animal husbandry portfolios. He is currently chairman of the Gujarat State Cooperative Marketing Federation and vice-chairman of the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation. “When Kurien was heading Amul, he made donations to Christian missionaries. You can get the details from Amul’s records,” he said, claiming that the donations were made to missionaries in Gujarat and elsewhere. “When I was the minister, this issue came to my notice, but I was advised to keep quiet because the Congress could have raked up the issue across the country,” he said.
Asked if he would demand an investigation, he said: “We did whatever was required during my tenure. We just did not declare it then.” Sanghani is the founder chairman of Amar Dairy, run by the Amreli District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Ltd. “I addressed Amul’s bike rally that had come to Amar Dairy… While we do not have any doubts about Dr Kurien’s contributions, nobody is remembering Tribhuvandas Patel who was the founder of Amul… Kurien was only a secretary,” he said.
Asked about Sanghani’s allegations, GCMMF Managing Director R S Sodhi, who is on a foreign tour, sent a text message: “Let me check.”
Kurien, who is known as the ‘father of the white revolution’ for helping India emerge as the world’s largest milk producer, was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1999. A Syrian Christian, he was cremated in Anand, as desired by him, when he died in 2012. Sanghani’s remarks come at a time when Amul has organised motorcycle rallies to celebrate ‘National Milk Day’ on November 26, which is Kurien’s birth anniversary.