Andhra Pradesh

Arrest of Prashant Bose a blow to the Maoist movement

File pictures of Prashant Bose and his wife Sheela Marandi.  

The arrest of Prashant Bose alias ‘Kishan da’, who carries a bounty of about ₹1 crore on his head, by the Jharkhand police late on Thursday night, is a big blow to the banned CPI (Maoist), especially when the movement is shrinking fast in many States, including in its stronghold States such as Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Bose, also known as Maneesh, Nirbhay and Kajal, and his wife Sheela Marandi were arrested at an undisclosed location near Saraikela.

The top Maoist leader has been underground for over three decades.

Second in command

Bose, who hails from Kolkata, is not only a key member of the Maoist Central Committee and the Polit Bureau but is also the second in command after its general secretary Nambala Keshava Rao alias Basavraj.

He was the founding-member of the Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI), which had merged with the Communist Party of India (Marxist – Leninist) People’s War (People’s War Group) of Kondapalli Seetharamaiah on September 21, 2004, to form the CPI (Maoist).

Bose, along with Muppala Lakshmana Rao alias Ganapathi, the former general secretary of the party, is considered to be one of the main architects of the merger.

The ‘masterstroke’

Senior police and Intelligence officials had then termed the merger a “masterstroke,” as the group not only expanded in terms of arms and manpower but also in terms of the area of command and reach. It had become one of the biggest extremist groups overnight in the South-East Asian region. The merger had strengthened the hold of Left Wing Extremism (LWE) in Central India, covering the States of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand.

Bose is currently the head of the Eastern Regional Bureau (ERB), which includes Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha, and is considered to be the brain behind the creation of the ‘Red Corridor’, as termed by the Maoist, from Nepal to Kerala.

Sources say that Bose was arrested somewhere between Jamshedpur and Saraikela when he and his wife were on their way to the Saranda forest to attend a secret meeting.

His wife is also a member of the Central Committee, and is the only woman in the highest decision-making body.

While Bose is aged around 75, his wife is aged about 65, and sources say that both were “very sick and weak at the time of arrest.”

According to a theory doing the rounds, Bose, his wife, and a few well- wishers in the party have negotiated the arrest due to his age and sickness.

Sources say that Bose has been ill since 2016 and that he is being carried in ‘dolis’ by his bodyguards.

“A surrender affects the morale of the party. There had been a similar theory when Seetharamaiah was arrested,” said a former Maoist leader.

Who next?

With the arrest of Bose, the focus is now on who will take his place. The names of Pramod Mishra and Misir Besra are being heard. Both belong to the MCCI and and are in Central Committee and the Polit Bureau.

Pramod had been arrested in 2008 and released in 2017. He had gone missing two months after his release. It is learnt that he now heads the movement in Bihar and Jharkhand.

Rift in party?

There have been reports that the merged groups are at loggerheads for the last six to seven years.

Prior to the merger, the MCCI had its presence in Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, while the CPI (M-L) People’s War maintained its domination in the combined State of Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

Maoists cadres and leaders who had surrendered in the last five to six years spoke about the rift between both the groups. Those from the MCCI feel that the leaders from the Telugu-speaking States were dominating the decision-making bodies. The surrendered Maoists also spoke about the differences concerning tribal and non-tribal leadership. The MCCI had always considered the PWG leaders and cadres as outsiders.

However, sources in the party, while denying such rift, accuse the police of propagating such theories.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2022 5:46:59 AM |

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