New Delhi: The Sunday reshuffle of UPA-2’s Congress ministers can only be truly understood by RSS/ BJP’s disastrous decision to continue with the tainted Nitin Gadkari as party president. Gadkari is not B.S.Yeddyruppa who has been so stung by his sacking as to contemplate leaving BJP to form his own party, which will surely damage the mother organization in Karnataka, its sole stronghold in the South. Yeddyruppa is madder with his ouster as Karnataka chief minister post an adverse Lok Ayukta finding because the huge donations made to BJP’s central leadership got him no reprieve, of which he cannot cease talking.

The trouble for BJP surely lies with its central leadership and RSS’s inability to contain its shenanigans. Whatever RSS’s fondness for Nitin Gadkari has evaporated with the exposure of his dodgy social entrepreneurship. But whilst it wants him gone, it cannot get a replacement for the rest of his remaining term, and it is loathe to accept someone such as L.K.Advani, a spent force according to the Sangha Parivaar, but still determined to become prime minister. Advani and the former prime minister, A.B.Vajpayee, have been targeted by Digvijay Singh, who alleges to have details of the corrupt practices of their progenies. The former Supreme Court chief justice, J.S.Verma, put up to these allegations by a pro-Congress news TV anchor, has expressed shock and anger at them, and demanded a full investigation, which, alongwith an impartial probe of Vadragate and any involvement of the Nehru-Gandhis in it, is only fair and just.

The problem, however, is that such an investigation, which exposes a large section of the ruling political class, will never happen. Arvind Kejriwal is right when he expresses extreme scepticism about the political class inquiring into its own corruption. But given Congress and UPA’s proclivity to blackmail its political opponents, BJP has now also been rendered vulnerable. A government probe on Nitin Gadkari is already on, and it will follow the pattern of the investigations against Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati, with CBI being used to frighten them when they are seen to be getting out of hand. Gadkari, though, is small beer. If he is dropped tomorrow as BJP president, he will fade away, and suffer the ignominious fate of Bangaru Laxman. It is Digvijay Singh’s allegations against Vajpayee and Advani that are more damaging, and these will pick speed in the coming days, hurting BJP’s ability to use the anti-corruption plank against UPA. Already, Advani is on the backfoot on the corruption issue, and the issue is making little headway in the Himachal Pradesh elections, where another tainted politician, Virbhadra Singh, is leading the Congress campaign. If Congress has attempted moral equivalency with BJP on the corruption issue, BJP’s central leadership and a confused RSS are permitting it.

On the face of it, it is hard to comment on the substance of Digvijay Singh’s allegations against Advani and Vajpayee. Vajpayee is an old story. The deals of his son-in-law, Ranjan Bhattacharjee, have been whispered about and outed in the past. Nevertheless, Vajpayee’s relatively clean image will be hit by fresh allegations, especially since BJP is looking (in vain) for a Vajpayee-like figure to lead the party to victory and power again. The allegation against Advani does not entirely surprise, because Delhi has been abuzz with it for years. That does not mean the allegation is true, but neither can it be dismissed. As Verma says, the allegations must be investigated, if only to clear the names of Vajpayee and Advani. Vajpayee, of course, is in no state to respond to these allegations. Knowing his character, he probably wouldn’t, even if he wished to. But Advani is loquacious, almost as bad as Digvijay Singh when it comes to running away with his mouth, or blogging his way into one controversy or other. Advani has been very quiet on Digvijay Singh’s allegations. For a man who commenced the campaign to repatriate Indian black money, Advani is conspicuously silent. Why? Why hasn’t he filed a criminal defamation case against Digvijay Singh?

Digvijay Singh holds a peculiar place in the Congress organization. Whilst he is not authorized to brief the media as one of the party’s general secretaries, that doesn’t prevent him from stirring the pot on the hour. Insiders say he is out of the inner loop after Congress’s crashing defeat in Uttar Pradesh, in which Rahul Gandhi, to Sonia Gandhi’s anguish, lost much political capital. So at least the Nehru-Gandhis have no fond feeling for Digvijay Singh, who will have to reckon with his own skeletons tumbling out sooner or later. But all the same, with Digvijay Singh’s allegations having, so to speak, shell-shocked BJP, Congress will have no qualms on expanding on Digvijay’s efforts. For all you know, he may be back in the scented garden. Which leads to Sunday’s reshuffle. It is a shame that Salman Khursheed was promoted to foreign minister despite allegations against his NGO. And Manmohan “Mr Clean” Singh has been brazen about shifting Jaipal Reddy out of petroleum and bringing Veerappa “oily” Moily in his place. The Hindu, perhaps the last of India’s reliable and trustworthy national dailies, gave advance warning of this shift, made under alleged pressure from Mukesh Ambani, but the government still went ahead.

UPA-2 and Congress have overcome their fear of electoral rejection because of corruption. Such electoral rejection can still happen, but at least Congress is happy to find BJP in the same boat. After Gadkari and the allegation against Advani, BJP has no virtue that sets it apart from Congress, and for this, RSS and the party’s central leaders are to blame. Sunday’s in-your-face reshuffle is just a trailer. Worse is going to follow from UPA-2.