CPI(Maoist) politburo member and hardline strategist Katakam Sudarshan alias Anand, who carries a reward of Rs. 12 lakh on his head, is poised to replace Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenji as the supreme leader of the leftist rebels in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa. Kishenji was killed by security forces in a gunfight a year ago.
Sudarshan is known for his ability to draw up strategies in both the political and military spheres of action and mostly works at the planning stage.
“We have information that Anand, who is a politburo member and among the senior leaders of the party is replacing or has replaced Kishenji. He would be or is heading the eastern regional bureau of the CPI(Maoist). We have alerted our forces who are keeping a strict vigil,” said a home department official.
Sudarshan, who hails from Adilabad in Andhra Pradesh, is an engineer by training. He joined the Maoist fold in the 1980s. The police describe him as “a soft spoken stocky man around 5ft 2inches tall with a dark complexion”.
Security forces suspect that Sudarshan planned the massacre of 72 CRPF jawans in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh in 2010.
He lost his partner Sadhana, who was the Maoists’ Adiladab district secretary a few years ago.“Sudarshan is not a pacifist like Azad and was against his party’s initiative to hold talks with the government. He is one of the orthodox senior members who believe in the rule of the gun,” said a senior police officer.
State police sources said Sudarshan replacing Kishenji would have serious political and security ramifications in Bengal. The joint forces believe that the Maoists, who are trying to gain lost ground in the three Bengal districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, would also try to spread their bases in other districts where they have a marginal presence.