Andhra Police’s investigations into the “tactics” adopted by suspected members of the CPI (Maoist) in the killing of an MLA and a former MLA in Araku Valley last month have led to a key conclusion: the Naxal outfit has got a new leader in Namballa Keshav Rao. Police sources told The Indian Express that Keshav Rao (63), alias Baswaraj, took over from Muppala Lakshman Rao (72), alias Ganapathi, around two months ago.
Lakshman Rao was asked to step down after the CPI (Maoist) central committee decided to elevate a younger leader, sources said. The new leader, Keshav Rao, is from Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh and is a graduate from the former Regional Engineering College in Warangal.
Lakshman Rao has led the CPI (Maoist) since its formation in 2004, when the outfit was formed with the merger of the People’s War Group (PWG), Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI) and CPI (Marxist-Leninist).
Corroborating Andhra police’s findings, a top officer in Telangana told The Indian Express: “We are attributing the recent killing of the TDP MLA and former MLA in Araku to the tactics of Baswaraj. The change of guard happened about two months ago after the CPI (Maoist) decided in a meeting that Ganapathi should make way for a younger leader.”
The TDP MLA, Kidari Sarveswara Rao, and the former MLA, Siveri Soma, were shot dead in Visakhapatnam district on September 23 allegedly by “at least 50 Maoists, included 10 with arms”, according to police.
Lakshman Rao is the son of a farmer and landowner from Birpur village in Telangana’s Jagtial, and holds a BSc and a B.Ed from Karimnagar college. He was instrumental in the merger of PWG, founded by Kondapalli Seetharamaiah, and the other outfits that led to the formation of a unified entity.