Bengaluru: Pradeep Eshwar has several prefixes – a motivational speaker, teacher and educational entrepreneur – before he added ‘Chikkaballapur MLA’ to his resume.
Eshwar, 38, has frequently grabbed the headlines ever since his Assembly election win in May this year.His emotionally charged, quirky manner of speaking has been the topic of several memes.
Eshwar’s recent appearance on the Kannada reality show Bigg Boss, triggered controversy and one nonprofit even lodged a complaint with Assembly Speaker U T Khader, demanding the MLA’s sacking.
Eshwar has since clarified that he appeared on the show for only one episode to talk to youth about parents’ value, a topic close to his heart as his father and mother died by suicide when he was in II PUC.
“Don’t become a politician if you can’t accept criticism,” is Eshwar’s mantra. “I don’t get rattled by the memes. It only means that some part of my message is reaching people,” he tells DH.
After his parents’ demise, Eshwar couldn’t complete the BSc programme he had enrolled into through distance mode. He began teaching at coaching centres.
Thanks to his oratory skills, Eshwar’s motivational videos became popular online.
“I started a local tuition centre in 2006. Within four years, it reached a strength of 2,000 students. I can confidently say that 95% of students in Chikkaballapur taluk who bagged medical and engineering seats in this period were my students,” Eshwar claims.
In 2018, he began the Parishrama NEET Academy, which became famous.
Eshwar attributes his debut electoral success to the wide support base he enjoyed as a teacher.
Having defeated BJP’s K Sudhakar, a minister going into the election, Eshwar became a giant-killer.
His rise as a politician is dramatic just like his campaign speeches, peppered with punch dialogues.
Born in Peresandra, Chikkaballapur, bordering Andhra Pradesh, Eshwar drew influence from Telugu films and actor Pawan Kalyan is his favourite. “My Kannada is impeccable, too,” Eshwar asserts.
During the 2018 Assembly polls, Eshwar had protested against Sudhakar for alleged corruption and supported independent candidate Naveen Kiran.
“Following this, several cases were slapped against me and I spent 2-3 years running around to courts. Since I had efficiently fought against Sudhakar, the Congress approached me to contest against him,” he explains.
There’s more to him than the publicity he receives. He’s a voracious reader who loves non-fiction. He makes notes from seven newspapers every day.
Eshwar continues to don the roles of both a teacher and a politician, with his wife Nayana being his strength in this journey.
After his election as MLA, Eshwar started ‘Namaste Chikkaballapur’, an outreach campaignin which he visits houses in his constituency every day, taking note of people’s grievances.
Eshwar’s team has also given a QR code to Chikkaballapur’s citizens. Scanning the code takes a person to the MLA’s webpage where complaints can be raised. “I have a team of telecallers. They call people back and ensure that their grievances are addressed,” he says.
The MLA is also starting a programme called ‘Super 60’ in December this year. Under this, average students from government schools will be trained to excel in SSLC (Class 10) exams. Another project in the pipeline is a foundation course for Class 8 students from government schools to crack the IIT entrance exam.
That apart, Eshwar has pressed into service five ambulances free of cost from Chikkaballapur to Bengaluru at a monthly cost of about Rs 12 lakh.
Eshwar manages funds for all this from his company’s earnings. His MLA salary is completely spent on students in the constituency, he says.
The legislator believes that he is testimony to the difference an orphan can make in society, if voted to power. “People may like me or dislike me,” he says, “but they can’t ignore me.”
(Published 21 October 2023, 22:06 IST)