With the party in a shambles following the most disastrous election results in three decades under his stewardship, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat is a beleaguered man.
Not surprisingly, the day-long Politburo meeting in Hyderabad on Friday was an exercise in damage control, its venue chosen carefully to avoid any attention. In Andhra Pradesh, the CPM has just one legislator in the assembly.
The loss of West Bengal and Kerala has only widened the rift between the party's central command and the state leaders. The absence of former Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee from the meeting bore further testimony to the fact.
Preparing an agenda for the central committee meeting, to be held over the next two days, reportedly posed a challenge.
Even as they kept mum, politburo members Biman Bose, Nirupam Sen, Md Amin, P Vijayan and others emerged grim faced from the meet. The central committee will analyse the poll results in Kerala and Bengal, said Sitaram Yechury.
In 2010, at the central committee meeting in Vijayawada, the party's state delegates had questioned the quality of leadership, pointing fingers at the decision to withdraw support from UPA-I over the Indo-US nuclear deal.
Today, they appeared vindicated. For Karat, Hyderabad appears yet another acid test.