- CPM's top panel will debate two rival drafts for first time since 1968
- Meet will discuss drafts by Sitaram Yechury and Prakash Karat
- Yechury group open for tie-up with Congress, Karat not in favour
But the big question as the party's most powerful Central Committee or CC meets in Kolkata today, is whether the need to oust the BJP is strong enough for the CPM to sink it's worst ever internal difference over working with the Congress to do so.
At today's meeting the CPM will discuss and draw up it's most crucial document prepared every three years -- the draft political resolution. This draft will then be circulated and debated within the party and outside for the next month or so and will be finalised at a party conference in April with amendments.
Only today, the CPM's top panel will debate not one but two rival drafts, something that has not happened since 1968 when at the Bardhaman party plenum two drafts were placed.
A section of radicals like Charu Majumdar opposed the party's growing dependence on parliamentary politics. They wanted armed revolution and eventually broke away to form the CPI-ML that later came to be better known as the Naxalite movement.
On the table today, simply put, are Sitaram Yechury draft and the Prakash Karat version.
Those supporting the current party General secretary Mr Yechury are all for an electoral deal with they call "all secular Left and democratic forces against the fascist rule of the BJP." Including the Congress.
But supporters of former general secretary Mr Karat say no. Anything, they say, to oust the "not fascist" but definitely "authoritarian" BJP. But no tie up with the Congress.
So, what next?
The rival drafts were furiously debated at the last CC meeting in October, say sources, without any resolution. At a Politburo meet in December, there was no reconciliation. Only, an agreement by the two sides to discuss the differences some more. Those discussions are expected to be heated at the three-day CC meeting beginning today as well.
Optimists say, a compromise will likely be hammered out and a split is improbable but not impossible.
Does it matter, whether the CPM splits or not? Its parliamentary presence has plummeted since 2004 when it had backed the Congress-led UPA 1 government at the Centre.
The Left had 59 seats in Parliament in 2004. CPM alone had 43. Now CPM has 9 seats. And the state that contributed 35 of those 44 seats in 2004 -- West Bengal -- is lost to the Left.
Romantics in the party say the Communists are the conscience keepers of political India. Pragmatists say time for all good men to come to the battle against the BJP. The realists say CPM has a strong will to survive and knows, united, it may still stand.