India Out!

Developments in the Maldives could reduce Indian influence.

By Ali Hassan Bangwar | April 2022

Though ties between the Maldives and India have historically and intermittently oscillated between opposition and support, the ongoing anti-India sentiments are raising serious concerns in the ruling political class in Malé. The internal political struggle and antagonism within the Maldives has been giving rise to sentiments against Indian presence in the country.

Dubbed as the “India Out” campaign in the Maldives, various domestic factions have been doing their best to drive the country’s relations with New Delhi to new lows. However, the movement is widely believed to be driven by political rivalries and antagonisms rather than any pragmatic vision or ground.

Following his release, the Abdullah Yameen-led Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) said in December 2021 that the party’s supremo would be personally visiting the atolls to scale up the campaign against Indian boots on the ground. Moreover, Mr Yameen’s and his supporters’ images attired in red T-shirts printed in bold “India Out” slogans widely circulated in the social media.

Additionally, PPM’s vice president and opposition parliamentarian Mohamed Saeed repeated the same assumptions and said, “We are not against India or the people of India. Our people are heavily into Bollywood, we love Indian cuisine. That is not the issue. There are reports of Indian military presence in the atolls and the government is not clarifying this.” “We oppose military presence of any foreign country – be it India, China or whoever else.” Ahmed Azaan, co-founder of Dhiyares, a Maldives online news outlet also said that the central objective of the movement aimed at doing away with Indian military presence from the country. “It is not a call to cut off diplomatic and trade relations with India,” Ahmed said in a tweet. He called for ties with New Delhi without compromising on the sovereignty of the Maldives.

The Maldives government in its statements, expressed serious concerns and termed the campaign against New Delhi as unsubstantiated and misguided and attributed it to small faction of political elements. Terming India as one of the closest bilateral allies and partners, the government termed the campaign as malicious and being against the citizens of Maldives residing in the country and abroad.

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