New Delhi, Nov 8: The big news in the naxalite circle was the taking over of the new chief. A man in charge of the military operations replaced an ideological head, clearly sending across a message that there is going to be a big shift in strategy.
Muppala Lakshman Rao alias Ganapathy who was heading the naxalites since 2004 was replaced by Nambala Keshava Rao alias Basavaraju. 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.
Commenting on the developments, a senior official tells OneIndia that this was in the offing since the past one year. Many had been leaving the outfit on the ground that they were unhappy with the ideology. Most had said that they were disgruntled and hence wanted to quit the outfit.
Further the naxalites were also facing heavy losses in several of their bastions. Home Ministry records speak about the reduction in the geographical spread of the naxalites all these factors in fact led to a change in leadership. More importantly the naxalites decided to go with a combat man at their head and this could signal that they would look to get more aggressive.
Keshav Rao unlike his former boss, Ganapathy specialises in combat. 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.