Amid row, Maldives’ Opposition parties take a jibe at govt for its ‘anti-India’ stance

Opposition parties in the Maldives have expressed concern over their government's 'anti-India stance,' emphasizing the importance of maintaining a positive relationship with India amid the ongoing diplomatic rift between the two nations.

Follow us:
Courtesy: X

India-Maldives row: The two main opposition parties in the Maldives expressed concern on Wednesday over their government's "anti-India stance" amid a diplomatic row between New Delhi and Male. In a joint statement, the parties termed India as Maldives' "most long-standing ally", further terming India as the 'most long-standing ally'.

Tensions escalated after Maldives allowed a Chinese research vessel to dock despite India closely monitoring its movement. This came a day after the island nation confirmed the ship would be making a port call for replenishment. The opposition warning highlights growing unease over the government's tilt towards China at the cost of ties with India.

Here’s what Opposition parties said on Maldives’ ‘anti-India stance’:

Both parties – the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Democrats, in a joint statement, said alienating long-standing allies like India would be detrimental to Maldives' development.

"The current administration appears to be making a stark pivot towards an anti-India stance. Both, the MDP and The Democrats believe alienating any development partner, and especially the country's most long-standing ally will be extremely detrimental to the long-term development of the country," the parties said in a press conference.

How India-Maldives erupted?

Notably, this all erupted after three Maldivian deputy ministers posted derogatory social media comments about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent visit to Lakshadweep.

President Mohamed Muizzu suspended the ministers, given the backlash it stirred in India, which has been the island country’s biggest tourism source market.

President Muizzu demands Indian military’s withdrawal

However, President Muizzu further strained ties by demanding all Indian military personnel withdraw from Maldives by March 15. Currently, 88 Indian personnel help operate aircraft and helicopters supplied for Maldives' maritime security.

He also broke with tradition by making Beijing his first foreign visit instead of New Delhi after assuming office. This pivot towards China and away from India has drawn intense scrutiny.

According to Indian defense officials, the docking of a Chinese research vessel at a Maldivian port is being closely monitored. While the vessel was granted access for replenishment, its presence near Indian waters remains a concern.

What do Maldives say about Chinese research vessels?

The Maldives government insists the ship will conduct research activities within its Exclusive Economic Zone following international protocols. However, maritime security experts say such surveys could collect sensitive data in the Indian Ocean region.

With India being a net provider of security in the Indian Ocean, Maldives' tilt towards China has strategically alarmed New Delhi. As small island nations turn into flashpoints of global tensions, maintaining stability in these waters is critical.

The Maldives risks jeopardizing its economy and security if it disrupts ties with India in favor of overdependence on China. Regional observers hope diplomacy can resolve the current friction.