Shashi Tharoor. Photo Reuters
Indian government minister Shashi Tharoor has appeared
before a magistrate probing the death of his wife days after
she accused him of adultery.
In a case that has become an election-year political
embarrassment for the ruling Congress party, Tharoor's wife
was found dead in a luxury hotel room in New Delhi after
sending tweets that suggested her husband was having an
affair with a Pakistan-based journalist.
An autopsy found that Sunanda Pushkar's death was "sudden and
unnatural" and that her body bore injury marks, although
doctors said this did not mean the injuries had caused her
Tharoor, a high-flying former U.N. diplomat, called for a
quick investigation into the death of his wife, saying he
hoped this would put an end to rumours about their personal
"I have finally had a chance to catch up with media reports
and am horrified to read the reckless speculation rampant
there," Tharoor, a junior human resource development
minister, wrote in a letter to Home Minister Sushil Kumar
"I pledge my full and unstinting cooperation. Nothing short
of truth will end the indignity to which my wife and I are
Later on Sunday, Tharoor, 57, gave his testimony to
subdivisional magistrate Alok Sharma, who is leading the
inquest into the death of his wife.
There was no word on what he had told the magistrate and he
drove away without making any comment to reporters gathered
outside the office, his face drawn.
The scandal has erupted just as the Congress party, led by
Rahul Gandhi, is preparing to fight a tough election against
a resurgent main opposition party as well as a new political
group that promises clean and open politics.
Rivals have painted Congress as a party of power and
patronage, engulfed in corruption scandals and unable to hold
its leaders to account for their actions.
Tharoor's marital problems have been splashed across the
front pages of newspapers and pored over by 24-hour
television channels, prompting calls by the opposition for a
fuller inquiry into the death of his wife.
"The circumstances of this case are such that we need to get
to the bottom of this," said Subramaniam Swamy, a leader of
the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.
Politicians in India have traditionally refrained from
attacking each other's personal lives and sex scandals
involving top leaders are rare.
Tharoor and his 52-year-old wife hit the headlines last week
when she said she had gone into his Twitter account and
posted what she said were intimate messages from Pakistani
journalist Mehr Tarar to expose a "rip-roaring affair".
Tarar hit back saying she would sue Sunanda for calling her a
Pakistani spy and denied having an affair with Tharoor. She
said she was friends with Tharoor on Twitter and exchanged
comments about articles she had written, but that was all.
Five members of Tharoor's staff were also questioned by the
magistrate leading the inquest into the death of Sunanda.
Under Indian criminal law, a magistrate must conduct an
inquiry if a woman has died within seven years of marriage.
The Tharoors married in late 2010, the third marriage for
A Delhi police spokesman declined to comment on the possible
lines of inquiry before a final post-mortem report had been