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Attack on BJP convoy bears signature of new naxal chief Nambala Keshav Rao

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New Delhi, Apr 09: When Basava Raju alias Nambala Keshav Rao took over as the new naxal chief, it was a signal that the Maoists were making a tactical shift. He took over as the chief from Muppala Lakshman Rao alias Ganapathy, who is 72 years old.

Nambala Keshav Rao

The naxalites were trying to signal that they wanted a younger chief in place, who is known for his aggression. The signal was clear and the naxalites wanted to make their movement extremely aggressive before the elections.

[Naxalites attack BJP convoy: An intelligence alert warned of similar attacks in March]

Sources tell OneIndia, the attack on the BJP convoy, which left five including its MLA dead clearly bears the signature of Rao. In March, the Intelligence Bureau had warned that Rao is mobilising cadres in a big way to target the Indian elections.

Nambala Keshav Rao, who originally hails from Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh. The decision to change the leader was taken as the naxalites wanted a younger man to head the outfit.

Moreover a large number of the cadres felt that in order to get more aggressive, a new and young leader should be appointed. Ganapathy has headed the CPI (Maoist) since it was formed in 2004. The outfit was merged with the Peoples' War Group, CPI (Marxist-Lennist) and the Maoist Communist Centre of India.

With a change in leadership, the naxalites wanted to infuse fresh life into the movement. With the security agencies attaining major success in bringing down the naxal spread, the cadres felt the need for a regime change. Further the number of naxal surrenders have gone up and each one of them has cited disillusionment as the primary reason. It may be recalled that earlier this week a total of 64 naxalites surrendered in Chhattisgarh stating that they were disillusioned with the ideology.

After Rao took over, including the BJP convoy attack, there have been three major incidents and the modus operandi suggests that the new strategy is more aggressive. The first was killing of the two leaders at Araku. They were surrounded by 50 naxals and ten of them opened fire on the two leaders.

The other incident took place in Chhattisgarh when a Doordarshan cameraman and two security personnel were killed. Both according to the security agencies were hits ordered by the new chief.

Who is Nambala Keshav Rao:

Rao took over as the chief of the CPI (Maoist), which was formed in 2004, following the merger with the Peoples' War Group, CPI (Marxist-Lennist) and the Maoist Communist Centre of India.

Rao, an aggressive planner and strategist hails from Andhra Pradesh. His address has been listed as, "VillageJiyannapet, PS & Mandalam-Kotabommali, Dist-Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh." He is the son of late N Vasudeva Rao.

He is an engineering graduate from the Regional Engineering College, Warrangal, which is now called the National Institute of Technology. He has been a second in command to Ganapathy and headed the Central Military Commission of the CPI (Maoists).

Intelligence Bureau officials describe him as an aggressive cadre and a key strategist. He specialises in use of improvised explosive devices. He has been responsible for training several cadres in the use of IEDs.

As the head of the CMC or Central Military Commission, he was responsible for planning and directing guerrilla activity. He was also in charge of chalking out the strategy and source arms and ammunition. He was also the overall in charge of the sub committees such as the Zonal Military Committee and Special Area Military Committee.

He is also well versed with the key areas that the naxals control in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Chattisgarh.

When asked if there were differences between Ganapathy and Rao, officials said that they are most likely to work together. The movement would continue to draw from the ideology of Ganapathy, while Rao would be used for his military skills. He would also be tasked with bringing in new cadres into the movement. For long now, the naxalites have been speaking about the need for a second rung leadership. With Rao at the helm, he would be responsible for building that as well, officials also said.

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