*This is a rare interview with Koteshwar Rao, a member of the politburo of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), the partys highest decision-making body. He is also head of the partys guerilla operations in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa. The original comments on this article said The 51-year-old Maoist leader refused to be photographed and set his own terms for the meeting. Mints reporters were asked to arrive at a school in Chakadoba where they waited for around 5 hours. At around dusk, they were escorted to where Rao wasa clearing in the jungle that was reached after a brisk 30-minute walk. In a conversation that lasted at least 5 hours, Rao, who greeted the reporters with the Maoist Lal salaam or red salute, explained the Maoist philosophy. And his groups ultimate objective.
* *Edited excerpts:*
*The administration alleges that you ambush people and run awaythat you dont have the courage to fight them*
Absolute rubbishthey know we dont run away, but say so because they can neither ignore us nor can they fight us. Even on 2 November, when Buddhababus (West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee) convoy was attacked, I was within a kilometre of where the blast took place. Huge forces were deployed, the area was combed, but I did not run away. All our comrades in (West) Bengal are sons and daughters of the soil. Where will they run away? For the last five years, I am camping here and helping the organization grow. The Intelligence Branch knows everything. They know what I look likethey even have a picture taken last year. Read the rest of this entry »