The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) began its state secretariat meeting in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday amid indications that it could be a stormy one as the party takes stock of its humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha polls.
The two-day 15-member secretariat meeting will be followed by the 84-member state committee meeting, that will last three days.
Party general secretary Prakash Karat and senior politburo member S Ramachandran Pillai will oversee the five-day meeting.
The meetings are the first since the poll debacle in which the state's ruling Left Democratic Front saw its Lok Sabha tally slipping to a mere four from the earlier 19. The CPI-M's Lok Sabha tally has slipped to 16 from 43 in 2004, its worst ever electoral showing.
A CPI-M legislator, on condition of anonymity, told IANS that some damage control exercise would be undertaken.
"The central leadership instead of finding a solution to the ongoing rift in the party between state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan is trying to placate the rival factions," said the angry legislator, adding that the party should "wield the rod, where it has to be done".
The rivalry between Vijayan and Achuthanandan, on since April 2006, reached a flash point when the central leadership suspended the duo from the politburo in May 2007 and then reinstated them in October the same year.
The biggest casualty of the factional feud has been the functioning of the Achuthanandan government, which has completed three years.
Hardliner Achuthanandan is past 85 years and Vijayan 20 years his junior, but the latter has an iron grip over the party as well as party meetings. Thus it is a foregone conclusion who is going to emerge the winner.
The vernacular media has already speculated various options the committees will have to take, including the possibility of asking both Achuthanandan and Vijayan to step down and take a fresh crop of leaders in their place.
However, speaking to IANS on condition of anonymity, a minister and a state secretariat member denied media reports of any axing or change taking place in the party and government.
"No doubt the situation is grim, but no chopping or change is going to take place. All are aware of the situation in the party, and all of us have risen to the occasion at times of crisis. The meetings will be smooth," said the minister.
Unlike the Congress party, the CPI-M has never changed its leadership midway both in the party and government. And this appears to be the saving grace for both Achuthanandan and Vijayan.