On 27 January, Kerala’s chief minister, Oommen Chandy, was grilled for 14 continuous hours about the “solar scam” that has rocked the state for the past three years. None of Kerala’s 13 former chief ministers had ever endured such a public ordeal. It was a low point for Chandy, who heads the state’s Congress-led United Democratic Front government, and who has had a nearly spotless five-decade-long political career.
These interrogations—conducted by G Sivarajan, a retired high court judge who heads the judicial commission probing the scam—pertained to the close contact between Chandy’s office and the businesswoman Saritha Nair. Three years earlier, Nair had been accused of cheating hundreds of people of crores through a fraudulent company dealing in solar panels.
Two of Chandy’s aides had already been arrested before he came under scrutiny himself. The main allegation against the chief minister, which he denies, is that he introduced Nair and her partners to politicians and bureaucrats, thus helping them carry out their scam.