The tight and flowing structure of the Maoists

Lifting the lid on the ground-level organisation of the extremists, who the police allege are forging links with activists.

September 01, 2018 10:16 pm | Updated September 02, 2018 09:40 am IST - Visakhapatnam

CPI (Maoist) general secretary Muppala Lakshmana Rao alias Ganapathi (left) and his second-in-command Nambala Keshava Rao alias Basavraj. Photos: Special Arrangement

CPI (Maoist) general secretary Muppala Lakshmana Rao alias Ganapathi (left) and his second-in-command Nambala Keshava Rao alias Basavraj. Photos: Special Arrangement

Though the Naxalite movement was started by Charu Majumdar, Kanu Sanyal and Jangal Santhal in West Bengal in 1967 under the banner of Communist Party of India (Marxist), the movement has changed many banners over the past four decades and is now called the CPI (Maoist), which is a banned organisation in the country.

The CPI (Maoist) was formed in 2004 with the merger of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People’s War, commonly known as the People’s War Group, and the Maoist Communist Centre of India. And it has been functioning under this banner since then.

The Maoists have a very tight and flowing organisational structure and follow the ‘need to know’ principle for the flow of information. Each unit within the structure has its role and area of operation cut out.

Also read: Do Maoists favour a dialogue with the Centre?

The core body is the central committee (CC), which is headed by Muppala Lakshmana Rao, alias Ganapathy, who is also the general secretary of the organisation. The CC is supported by the polit bureau (PB) and the central military commission (CMC).

The think tank

The polit bureau is the think tank of the organisation. It is again headed by Ganapathy and his second-in-command, Nambala Keshava Rao, alias Basavraj.

The PB earlier had about 14 members, but the strength is now down to nine.


It is the political brain of the Maoists, as the membership once comprised intellectuals such as Kobad Ghandy (now in jail) and Cherukuri Rajkumar, alias Azad ( killed in an alleged encounter with the police in 2010). The PB’s role is basically to keep in touch with the over-ground frontal organisations, operators and sympathisers and formulate long-term policy and strategy.


The PB keeps in touch with like-minded political parties and sympathisers and plays a major role in developing logistical support, which includes getting legal help for cadres, funding, spreading the ideology and finding safe houses for cadres.

Drafting plans

The central military commission’s role is to design operational plans that include attacks on security forces, recruiting cadres and funding through extortion.

It is presently headed by Nambala Keshava Rao.

The military structure has divisions, which comprise the PLGA (People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army), the main armed platoons and the militia members.

The CC, which has 19 members (13 from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana), is headed by Ganapathy. It is supported by the four regional bureaus — central, east, north and south.

The central bureau spans the Dandkaranya zone, the Andhra-Odisha border special zone and the state committees of Telangana, Odisha, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The eastern bureau consists of the zonal committees of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Assam and Uttar Pradesh.

While the northern bureau comprises Punjab and Uttarakhand, the southern bureau controls the whole of the Western Ghats region.

Going to the grass roots

Each of the bureaus and the zonal committees is headed by a CC member. Under the zonal committees, there are regional committees.

The regional committees are further divided into divisional committees, area committees and finally the local area committees, which focus on one or two tribal villages each.

Strategy meetings

Every year the CC and the PB members try to meet at least on two occasions: the Martyrs’ Week, which begins on July 28, and the PLGA Week, usually the first week of December.

It is during these two meetings that the year-long policy is drafted.

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