Prahlad Ingole, President of Swabhimani Paksha in Nanded, said his idea to crowdfund the Malegaon Panchayat Samiti elections was inspired by the efforts of his political boss, MP Raju Shetti. Shetti, during his first Assembly election, had coined the phrase “Vote Daya Note Daya (Give me your vote also give me a note)”.
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In 2015, Ingole had made the headlines for his public interest litigation (PIL), seeking payment of interest to cane growers on late fair and remunerative price (FRP). The Aurangabad bench of the Mumbai High Court had directed the sugar commissioner to look into the matter and repeated hearings were held. Notwithstanding low sugar prices, millers had raced to clear the dues in fear of payment of interest.
Talking about his debut in electoral politics, Ingole said, “Being a small-scale farmer, Shetti had managed to take on the ruling elite and fight elections through crowdfunding. When I decided to throw in my hat for the electoral battle, I decided that my campaign too, would be crowdfunded.”
Ingole is seeking election from the Malegaon Panchayat Samiti ghat, which has 10 villages in it.
Ingole said the response to his decision was overwhelming. “Till Monday, I had already managed to collect Rs 15,000. Every village I went to, people went out of their way to help me,” he said.
At a few places, Ingole confessed, he could hardly control his tears. “Farm hands went out of their way to donate for my election. Even though they are not voters in my constituency,” he said.
The villages, Ingole aims to represent, are from the arid regions of Ardhrapur taluka of Nanded district. Other than cane and soyabean, pulses are major crops in the area. The region has seen a rise in farmer suicides over the last few months. If elected, Ingole hopes to raise the issues related to farmers.