The Central Committee (CC) of the CPI-M will have the final say on the party's dispute with the UPA over the Indo-US nuclear deal.
It seems likely that the CC, which is the party's highest decision-making body, will adopt the politburo resolution asking the government not to operationalise the deal. The CC comprises top party functionaries including state secretaries, important state-level functionaries, chief ministers, high office bearers, important ministers in states and leaders of mass organisations like trade unions.
Just how much influence this panel of 80-odd party veterans — most of whom are above 70 and not in the best of health — wields can be gauged from the 1996 experience. At that time, they had ticked off the party's then general secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet when he had sought to reverse the CC's decision disallowing Jyoti Basu to head the United Front coalition as PM.
Basu later termed the decision a historic blunder. But the view that prevailed at the time was that the CPM shouldn't be part of any power-sharing arrangement where it cannot influence policy. This appears to be the line of thinking in the party's opposition to the nuclear deal and its objective of a programme-oriented third front as well.
The dates of next week's CC meeting, which is held every three months, has been advanced on account of the controversy over the nuclear deal. The two-day meeting in which the politburo resolution will be put up for discussion is now slated for Wednesday.
According to the CPM's constitution, all politburo decisions have to be ratified by the CC.
The Central Committee is elected by the CPM party congress, held every three years. CPM general secretary Prakash Karat was elected to the CC in 1985. He made it to the politburo, the day-to-day decision-making body, seven years later.