In curious turn, Maldives trends after Modi’s Lakshadweep visit

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While there has been no official words yet, Maldives appears picking up a major diplomatic red flag with India by inviting a Chinese ship to dock at Male.

Narendra Modi in Lakshadweep

Narendra Modi in Lakshadweep

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, January 7: In a curious turn of event, Maldives is trending on the social media platforms ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Lakshadweep. The trolls on the social media are giving calls to the Indian tourists for the boycott of Maldives.

The social media users are claiming that Modi’s Lakshadweep was a message to the tourists to shun Maldives in favour of the group of islands close to Kerala. Modi had spent a day in Lakshadweep and he had even explored the biodiversity under the waters. His video of diving under the water was widely shared.

But the social media users have amplified campaign against Maldives in the wake of the Modi visit to Lakshadweep. They have even taken potshots at Maldives after the government websites which included even of President Mohamed Muizzu were not accessible for several hours. Some of the users claimed that the websites had come under cyber attacks after a junior Maldivian minister made an adverse remark against Modi in a social media post while sharing the photograph of the prime minister in Lakshadweep.

Maldives National Party in a post on social media platform X condemned “racist and derogatory comments made by a government official against a foreign head of State. This is unacceptable. We urge the government to take necessary action against those involved.”

While there has been no official words yet, Maldives appears picking up a major diplomatic red flag with India by inviting a Chinese ship to dock at Male. The Eurasian Times in a report has claimed that Maldives has allowed the Chinese ship Xiang Hong Yang 3 to dock at Male. The daily has also claimed that Sri Lanka had denied the permission to the Chinese ship to dock at its ports.

India and Sri Lanka share cordial relations. But Muizzu came back to power in Male by leading an ‘India Out’ campaign. He has been calling for ousting the Indian army from Maldives. However, he has not yet been able to give the number of Indian Army personnel which according to him are in Maldives. In an interview to the Qatar-based Al Jazeera, Muizzu had said that he was still finding out the exact number of the Indian Army personnel in Maldives.

He is further set to antagonize India by choosing to visit Beijing in place of New Delhi in his first of the foreign visits. He had visited Ankara for his first bilateral visit. India has frosty relations with Turkey. As per traditions, Maldivian President first visits New Delhi. Within the diplomatic circle, the developing events in Male are being keenly watched out as China seeks to increase her influence in the Indian Ocean. India with the Indian Ocean Rim Association maintains close relations with small island nations. India also undertakes development activities as a part of the initiative.

Tourism is the mainstay of the Maldivian economy. Indian tourists occupy the first slot among the foreign tourist arrivals in Maldives followed by Russia and China. More than two lakh Indian tourists travel to Maldives for their holidays. While the campaign to boycott may harm Maldives in the immediate run, the experts warn that China may rush to fill the void and take advantage. Historically, Maldives has always maintained cordial relations with India. But Muizzu is seeking to turn against the tradition in the Indian Ocean archipelago.  

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