Top Maoist leader Gumudavelli Venkatakrishna Prasad, aka Gudsa Usendi, surrendered to Andhra Pradesh police officials on Wednesday along with his wife.

If the authorities follow the surrender policy they have laid out, Prasad should be paid Rs 17.5 lakh for turning himself in. He is due Rs 15 lakh -- the bounty on his head in Andhra Pradesh -- from the state, and Rs 2.5 lakh from the central government.

However, experts say Prasad is unlikely to be given the Rs 15 lakh due to him from Andhra Pradesh because he surrendered mainly because of health problems.

Prasad was, until a few months ago, the chief spokesperson of the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee, the Maoist unit that controls the so-called "liberated zone" comprising southern Chhattisgarh, parts of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. He is only the second member of the 20-strong committee to surrender.

Authorities claim that he is the mastermind of the ambush of a Central Reserve Police Force Patrol in Dantewada in Chhattisgarh in April 2010 that resulted in the deaths of 76 paramilitary personnel.

They say that Prasad also planned the attack on a convoy of senior Congress Party leaders in Chhattisgarh's Darbha Valley. The ambush left 27 people dead, including VC Shukla, a former union minister, and Mahendra Karma, architect of the Salwa Judum militia.

The Salwa Judum had been started as a citizen's militia in Chhattisgarh in 2006 to counter the Maoist insurgency, but was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2011.

Gudsa Usendi is the alias assumed by all spokespersons of the zonal committee.  Prasad served as Gudsa Usendi for the "liberated zone" for three or four years, according to N Venugopal, Hyderabad-based journalist and author of a book on the Maoist movement. He stepped down because of health problems soon after the attack on Congress leaders.

Most states with a strong Maoist presence have their own surrender and rehabilitation programmes. In Andhra Pradesh, for instance, the state government is supposed to give a surrendering Maoist the bounty that was on his or her head as part of a rehabilitation payout, in addition to the money prescribed by central guidelines.

In March 2013, the Centre announced new cash rewards for Maoists who laid down arms. Senior Maoist leaders would get Rs 2.5 lakh, along with a Rs 4,000 stipend for 36 months to help them make new lives. Junior Maoist cadres would get Rs 1.5 lakh, along with the same stipend. The new guidelines even prescribed cash rewards based on the weapons that the Maoist gave up.

According to Pavan Dahat, a reporter for The Hindu based in Gadchiroli, the district in Maharashtra bordering Andhra Pradesh, the quality of the weapon a Maoist possesses is directly related to his or her seniority in the organisation’s hierarchy. Hence, Prasad stands to get a little more than Rs 17.5 lakh for laying down arms.

Despite these rewards, neither Andhra Pradesh nor the other states have shown a marked increase in surrenders by Maoists. If anything, data from the ministry of home affairs suggests that Maoist surrenders have actually fallen in 2013:

As of August 2013, 150 Maoists had surrendered in India. In the same period in 2012, 352 Maoists had surrendered.

The last high-profile Maoist leader to surrender was Zalamsai Sadmek, alias Raghu, alias Rainu, who was also part of the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee. He surrendered in 2008, when top Maoist leaders were promised Rs 1.5 lakh by the Centre for surrendering.

In Andhra Pradesh, only 53 Naxalites had surrendered from the beginning of 2013 until August. In the same period in 2012, as many as 250 had given themselves up. This could suggest that neither the new Central guidelines nor the state’s ambitious rehabilitation programme are having much of an effect.

Author Venugopal was sceptical of the effectiveness of the surrender and rehabilitation programme in Andhra Pradesh.

“In the 1990s, the state’s police regularly overstated the figures about Maoists who surrendered,” he said. “Sometimes, they would cite a number that actually exceeded the official number of Maoists in the state.”

The last top Maoist functionary to surrender in Andhra Pradesh was Pilla Venkateswar Rao, who laid down arms before chief minister Chandrababu Naidu during the 2004 state assembly elections, Venugopal said.

Rao had served as a secretary to the central committee of the Maoist organisation, which is second only to the Politburo in the Maoist hierarchy. There have been no high-profile surrenders since then.

More often than not, Maoist cadres who surrender find themselves used in police work or as agents, the author said. Whether Prasad gets his money or not, he will almost surely be used in the campaign to crack down on other senior leaders.

Instead of using surrendered cadres to attack the insurgency, Maoists should be used in development initiatives, said Nandini Sundar, a professor of sociology at Delhi University who was among the petitioners in the case that resulted in the Salwa Judum militia being banned.

“They can be good educators, given their familiarity with tribal and adivasi issues,” she said.