Namballa Kesava Rao, 64, alias Basava Raj, of Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh, took charge as chief of the banned outfit soon after Ganapathy stepped down, sources said.
Following the succession, the CPI Maoist central committee also decided to induct six new faces into the committee as many central committee members had either been arrested or had surrendered in recent years, reducing their number to below 15 from 39 in 2010.
The change of guard has the approval of the outfit’s congress, sources said. Police sources said the last congress (the 9th), called “Unity Congress”, had been held in 2007 after the merger of the Maoist Communist Centre of India and People’s War Group (PWG). The 10th Congress was due since 2012. According to information gleaned from surrendered Maoists, the congress, despite not meeting the last few years, elected CC members who in turn elected the general secretary.
According to sources, Ganapathy has been suffering from acute arthritis for five years and has been taking homeopathic medicines. “A person of his stature will not be able to be brought to urban areas for modern allopathic treatment. He is bed-ridden but not on his death bed,” a senior police officer said.
Ganapathy, a former school teacher from Jagtial mandal of erstwhile Warangal district, joined People’s War Group formed by Kondapalli Seetaramaiah and K G Satyamurthy in the late ’70s as a member and rose through the ranks to become general secretary in the early ’90s when senior leaders developed differences with founder member Kondapalli.
“Unlike Kondapalli, who gave up his armed struggle after differences with seniors, Ganapathy will not surrender to security forces,” the sources said. He will continue as a central committee and politburo member to guide the outfit, they said.