That debate is ongoing. But increasingly, there are indications that after the tumultuous Kharipati cadre convention and the central committee meeting last month, the hardliners have become more vocal and aggressive to the point of embarrassing pragmatists in the leadership with their violent attacks and militant unionism.
The replacement of Minister of Information Krishna Bahadur Mahar a by Dinanath Sharma as party spokesman, open disagreement between Tourism Minister Hisila Yami and her party colleagues about disbanding the YCL, and numerous other public displays of disunity indicate serious fissures.
Intra-party contradictions find their voice in increasingly inconsistent statements from Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. He is obviously stretched to the limit trying to bridge the two sides, keep the party together and do damage control.
"He is really feeling like a fish out of water," an establishment insider told Nepali Times.Reacting to the attack on Himalmedia, Dahal first appeared conciliatory and almost said sorry. But in Butwal on Thursday he said he saw no reason why there was so much fuss about the attack because "after all no one was killed".
At a time when party moderates are trying to douse the spreading flames, Maoist union boss Salikram Jammarkattel on Thursday warned: "If anyone is arrested, we will attack every media in the country whatever the party directive is." On Wednesday his union closed down the Kantipur printing facility in Biratnagar.
While Dahal's press adviser Om Sharma condemned the attacks on the media through Gorkhapatra and party spokesman Sharma denounced it as "highly objectionable", Information Minister Mahara was not as categorical.
Dahal himself admits it is probably true that royalists have "infiltrated" his rank-and-file and one section of the party is trying to prove itself to be more "revolutionary" than the other. But he is kept busy firefighting, juggling internal factions, tackling the NC opposition and dealing with international pressures.
Political difficulty could also build up against the prime ministers' visit to Nordic countries next month unless he takes immediate steps to mend his democratic image. Otherwise the tour may turn into a fiasco.
For the final word on just how serious the rift within the Maoist party is, we asked a senior government leader on Thursday. His reply: "That is the root of all the problems we face today."