‘India Out’ campaign in Maldives intensifies with Yameen support

“Deeply concerned about attempts to disseminate false and unsubstantiated information to spread hatred against India,” says the government.

About a fortnight after the release of former Maldives President Abdulla Yameen, after the Supreme Court overturned his conviction in a money laundering case, the “India Out” campaign in the island nation intensified, the old strongman leading her now.

Earlier this month, Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) said the leader would travel to the atolls to step up the ongoing campaign against “Indian boots on the ground” in the archipelago. he Indian Ocean, even though the administration in power denies any Indian military presence. Images of Mr. Yameen and his supporters, wearing a red t-shirt with “India Out” printed in bold, are circulating on social networks, along with the hashtag “#IndiaOut”.

In a statement released on Sunday, the Maldives government said it was “deeply concerned” by attempts to disseminate “false and unsubstantiated information to spread hatred against India.” Calling India “one of the closest bilateral partners to the Maldives”, the government attributed the campaign to a “small group of individuals and a few political figures”.

“The spread of hatred and false allegations regarding bilateral relations with neighboring countries not only tarnish relations with trusted allies who provide constant support to the Maldivian people, but also affect the safety and security of their citizens in the Maldives. and Maldivians living abroad ”, According to the government press release.

This is the second such statement released by Male in recent weeks. On November 17, the government “strongly rejected” attempts to spread “false information” criticizing its ties to India, its “closest ally and trusted neighbor”.

Relations between India and the Maldives deteriorated significantly when the Yameen administration was in power from 2013 to 2018. Significantly, tensions increased over Mr. Yameen’s ultimatum to New Delhi to withdraw two Indian helicopters from the strategic atolls of Laamu and Addu. The perceived tilt of China by Mr. Yameen during this period also raised concerns in New Delhi.

Following the election of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in September 2018, his government declared an “India First” foreign policy, forcefully re-establishing ties. In open acknowledgment of his government’s India-centric foreign policy, Mr Solih told The Hindu in a January 2021 interview that the Maldives “do not apologize” for their close ties to India.

President and former President Mohamed Nasheed, a colleague of Mr. Solih’s party and an influential voice in the Maldives, previously declared India to be the “most important country” for the Maldives, while accusing his political opponents of ” xenophobia ”.

Critics of the government’s relations with India, however, said it was India’s “military presence” of which they were suspicious. Talk to The hindu de Male, opposition parliamentarian and PPM vice-chairman Mohamed Saeed said, “We are not against India or the Indian people. Our people are strongly in Bollywood, we love Indian food. This is not the problem. There are reports of Indian military presence in the atolls and the government is not clarifying this, ”he said, adding:“ We oppose the military presence of any foreign country – be it India, China or whoever.

Observing that Mr. Yameen was only “giving leadership” to the “concerns” of citizens, Mr. Saeed criticized the government for its Uthuru Thila Falhu (UTF) port development agreement with India, signed in February 2021. “There is no transparency, and the government is reluctant to reveal the terms of the deal to Parliament, despite the majority in the House. The leadership of BJP in India and the [ruling] The CDM disrupts bilateral relations. We are not on the right track, ”said Mr. Saeed, who was Minister of Economic Development in Mr. Yameen’s government.

At the time of the signing of the UTF pact in February this year, Maldives Defense Minister Mariya Didi called the project – for which Male made several requests even during Mr. Yameen’s tenure – as “vital.” for the “efficient functioning” of the Maldivian coast. To keep. Ms Didi said the relationship between the Maldives and India is “stronger than ever” today.

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