Having worked with news dailies and TV news channels for 18 years, 36-year-old Mallanna is a popular name in Telangana households for his reportage.

Meet Teenmaar Mallanna the journalist taking on TRS and Cong in Huzurnagar bye-poll
news Politics Wednesday, October 09, 2019 - 07:55

As the political battle ahead of Telangana's Huzurnagar bye-poll heats up, the ruling TRS and opposition Congress are facing a unique contender — journalist-turned-politician 'Teenmaar Mallanna', formerly known as Naveen Kumar. Mallanna's election symbol is a matchbox.

Having worked with newspapers and TV news channels since 2001, 36-year-old Mallanna is a popular name in Telangana households for his reportage and his often satirical and bold takes on social and political issues.

Mallanna has triple Masters — MA (Political Science) and Masters of Communications and Journalism (MCJ) from Osmania University and MBA (Master of Business Administration) from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU).

Unlike his recent past, where he would typically find himself in the middle of busy schedules of TV shows or out reporting on the ground, Mallanna is now reaching out to the voters of Huzurnagar as he is up against TRS's Saidi Reddy and Congress' Padmavathi Reddy.

In a conversation with TNM, Teenmaar Mallanna explained why he decided to start his political career with the Huzurnagar bye-polls.

"For the past few months, I have exposed several corrupt dealings and incidents of illegal land grabbing in the state on my YouTube channel and other social media platforms. As a journalist, it's my responsibility to reveal the dark side of the power and after that, it's up to the opposition parties and civil society to fight that," Mallanna explains. "Unfortunately, opposition parties, mainly Congress, have been compromised due to vested interests, and civil societies have their own weaknesses. I felt it's time for me to step into the political battle.”

He further adds, "Irrespective of the parties, be it TRS, Congress, Telangana Jana Samiti, CPI or CPI(M), all of them are party to crimes like land grabbing, exploitation of Backward Classes, SC/STs, minorities and those economically backward among dominant castes. That's why they never questioned anything — it was to save their own skins."

When asked about his allegations and his investigative reports, Mallanna says, "I have documents that show as many as 76 MLAs in the government and some other powerful people are corrupt, and I have placed them on record. If I had been wrong, they could have already initiated a legal procedure, but since my argument has weight, they're trying to find out how the information was leaked, instead of launching a probe into the corruption."

Mallanna claims that he is confident of winning Huzurnagar bye-elections, stating that he is getting a huge response from the different sections of people. He has not entered politics for Huzurnagar bye-elections alone, but to remain in the fray and fight for people, he says.

Mallanna says he is standing for the bye-polls despite threats and disruptions in his campaign.

"The majority section, the poor, SCs STs and BCs minorities are with me. As soon as I asked for campaign funding, people immediately pooled up their little amounts and sent me Rs 14 lakh. The same people will elect me. In this elections, the money of political parties won't work," he says.

Mallanna's team comprises research scholars, students, journalists and like-minded individuals, and has carried out a survey on problems that residents of Huzurnagar face. The team has come up with a report that details around 600 problems and also suggests solutions.

Mallanna says he will start a political platform that will work beyond this bye-election. "Let alone solutions, these parties and their candidates don't know even six out of 600 problems in the constituency. I'm not afraid and I want to do some good for the people before I die,” he adds.

The Huzurnagar bye-poll was necessitated after the resignation of Telangana Congress Chief Uttam Kumar Reddy after he was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Nalgonda constituency earlier this year.

The election has turned into a high-stakes battle as the Congress has fielded Padmavathi Reddy, Uttam Kumar's wife. Meanwhile, TRS candidate Saidi Reddy had contested from the same constituency earlier during the Assembly elections in 2018 but had lost to Uttam Kumar.

Read: CPI(M) suspends Huzurnagar MLA candidate after his nomination is rejected

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