The arrest of top Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy in Delhi on Sunday will have a strong impact on naxalite movement in India, especially in South Indian states, where the ultra left revoltuionary party is trying to gain a stronghold, having consolidated its position in Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh.

That such an important naxalite leader had been operating from the national capital for the last one and half years was itself a rude shock to the intelligence agencies which helped Delhi police nab him. Ghandy had been liasing with revolutioanry parties in Belgium, Peru, Philippines, Turkey, Germany and Nepal.

The 63-year-old leader was in charge of the South Western Regional Bureau (SWRB) coordinating the naxalite activity in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra, where rebel activity remained stagnant despite herculean efforts made by the Maoist party. Taking into consideration his ability to analyse the national and international developmetns, he was also entrusted with the job of building up the naxal movement in urban areas.

Ghandy is stated to have admitted that despite the rapid spread of the naxalite movement in Central and North India, it failed to strike roots in other states. Even in Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh, the rebel party failed to win over people in plain areas and in towns, while the movement was getting strengthened in tribal belts. With the Maoist party realising that it was consistently failing in garnering support from the middle class and the intellectual sections of society, it had asked Ghandy to devise strategies and identify issues that could win over these two sections. For this purpose, Maoists had formed a Sub-Committee on Mass Organisations (SUCOMO) and Ghandy was heading it.

Though the naxalite movement began in Maharashtra in Gadchiroli division abutting Andhra Pradesh three decades ago, it had failed to spread to other areas. In Kerala also the naxalite party had failed to make much of an impact. Karnataka where the movement was relatively strong just a decade ago, had seen a split in the rank and file of Maoists after a section of leaders leaders questioned the very principle of area wise seizure of power starting from forest areas. Ever since the split, the Maoist party failed to strike roots in this state.

In Tamil Nadu, the Maoist think tank had been trying to get a foothold in districts abutting Andhra Pradesh and Kerala but instant response from the police agencies had halted the spread of the Maoist movement. The exchange of fire near Theni river in Tamil Nadu two years ago forced the Maoist party to slow down on its plans.