The CPI (Maoist) suffered a major blow on Wednesday when the secretary of the Dandakaranya special zonal committee Gumudavelli Venkatakrishna Prasad alias Gudsa Usendi, who was considered a member of the party’s top think tank, surrendered before the police.

Prasad and his wife Raji gave themselves up reportedly on health grounds to the anti-Maoist Special Intelligence Bureau of the police. A Warangal-based politician was said to have played the mediatory role in the surrender. Prasad carried on his head a bounty of Rs. 15 lakh announced by the State government and Rs. 20 lakh by the Chhattisgarh government. The SIB confirmed his surrender but said the formal announcement would be made on Thursday.

The 53-year-old Maoist hailed from the Kadavendi village in Warangal district.

Prasad headed a committee that led Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh and Odisha. He was considered the mastermind of the killing of 76 CRPF jawans in a landmine attack near Tarmetla in Chhattisgarh and the ambush of a convoy of Congress leaders that claimed the lives of former Chief Minister V.C. Shukla, Mahendra Karma, State Congress president Nand Kumar Patel and 24 others in Bastar in May last year.

Sources said Prasad was waiting to surrender as he fell out with the party leadership after he resented the attack on the convoy of Congress leaders as many of them were innocent people. He had himself ordered the attack but issued a press release later expressing regret. He was critical of excessive violence where it was not necessary and advocated killing as a last resort. He came into prominence after the killing of Kishanji, Polit Bureau and Central Military Commission member of the party.