NEW DELHI: Basavaraj alias Namballa Keshav Rao has formally replaced Ganpathy alias Muppalla Lakshmana Rao as the new general secretary of the banned outfit. The CPI (Maoist) has come out with a press statement to make the announcement. Basavaraj is the brain behind the outfit's attacks against security personnel and his elevation may see a spike in such incidents, warn security experts. Though the statement is dated November 10, it reached local journalists on Wednesday morning.
Interestingly, Basavaraj's name as the new general secretary was proposed by none other than Ganpathy in a meeting of the politburo members in February last year, sources say. Besavaraj also hails from undivided Andhra Pradesh (now Telagana) as is the case with most CPI (Maoist) cadre.
While 71-year-old Ganpathy is from Berpur village of Jagdil district, Telangana, 63-year-old Basavaraj is from Gianapet village of Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh. Basavaraj, known for being an expert in explosives and military tactics, has been associated with the banned outfit with more than three decades and has served as the chief of Central Military Commission (CMC).
Basavaraj, who has a `2.2 crore bounty on his head, has been underground for the last 28 years. Basavraj graduated from Regional Engineering College (REC) in Warangal, now renamed the National Institute of Technology (NIT), and he had been arrested several times in Srikakulam for his agitations and protests during his student days.
Talking about Basavraj, a senior security official said that Basavraj has been at the forefront in all the major Maoist attacks such as the Dantewada 2010 attack in which 76 CRPF soldiers were killed, the Jeeram Ghati attack in which 27 people, including former state minister Mahendra Karma and Chhattigarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel, were killed. The official added that Basavaraj is the brain behind the outfit's attacks against security personnel and his promotion may see a spike in such incidents.
Speculations about Ganpathy's failing health have been doing rounds for quite some time now. The press release issued by the CPI (Maoist), mentioned Ganpathy's ill health, and recalled Ganpathy's 25-year tenure as the head of the People's War Group, which then merged into CPI (Maoist) and took the shape of outfit that is today active in Bastar, parts of Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Jharkhand.