Raipur: Nambala Keshava Rao has been named as the new general secretary of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) following reports of ailing health conditions of leader Muppala Laxmana Rao alias Ganapathy.

A statement released on the letterhead of Communist Party of India (Maoists) central committee, which was signed by its spokesperson Abhay, said Rao, also known as Vasavaraju, has been elected as the new general secretary of Communist Party of India (Maoist) during the fifth meeting of the central committee. 

The Maoists statement said that due to the ailing health of Ganapathy, who headed the banned outfit since 2004, he has stepped down from his position. 

Ganapathy, a former school teacher, joined the Maoist movement during the early 1970s and became the head of the erstwhile Andhra-based CPI(Marxist-Leninist) (People’s War) in 1992. He continued in this position after this group merged with the erstwhile Bihar-based CPI(Marxist-Leninist) (Party-Unity) in 1998 and the unified CPI(ML)(PW) merged with the Bihar-based Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI) in 2004 to form CPI (Maoist).

The experts working on Left Wing Extremism (LWE) believe that this change in guard is likely to infuse a renewed energy into the Maoist movement, which has relatively been pushed on a back foot due to aggressive posturing by security forces and development measures undertaken by the Centre and state government.

Who is Nambala Keshav Rao?  

Nambala Keshav Rao, 60, hails from Jiyannapet village of Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh. He is an engineering graduate from Regional Engineering College (Warangal). He has been associated with the Naxal movement for more than three decades and has held several key posts in the banned organisation. 

He has been working as a key member in the Maoist’s central committee for more than 27 years and was part of the Politburo team past 18 years. 
His strength is his expertise in military tactics and use of explosives, especially use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Central Military Commission (CMC) at the central level is responsible for directing guerrilla activity, chalking strategy, buying and supply of arms. He had been underground for almost three decades before taking over as number two in the organisation. He continues to evade the police and security forces and was arrested only once at Srikakulam in 1980. 

He has worked extensively in Maoist areas of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, and Dandakaranya in Chhattisgarh.

Apart from police forces of Naxal-infested states, Basavaraj is wanted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for his role in several Maoist attacks. The NIA had announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh for him.

(With agency inputs)