Diplomacy Politics

Maldives-India tension is on, Delhi unlikely to remove contentious copters before polls

NEW DELHI: India’s ties with the Maldives remain tense with authorities in Male saying there is no understanding on allowing two Indian choppers — the centre of a diplomatic tug of war — to remain on the islands even as India is likely to await the outcome of elections there scheduled for September.

The Indian government is unlikely to remove the choppers anytime soon as the election in the Maldives nears. While the joint opposition in the Maldives fears President Abdulla Yameen will rig elections, it is still hoping that popular sentiment against the government will allow it to eventually defeat him.

While Indian officials did not offer any comment, highly placed Maldivian diplomatic sources in Male said the deadline to remove the choppers, June 30 this year, should have been adhered to. This was in the context of recent reports that there had been a deal to keep the choppers in the Maldives.

The hostility with India had again spilled into the public domain last week with Male strongly protesting with Indian authorities on Sunday BJP MP Subramanian Swamy’s tweet demanding that India invade the Maldives if polls are rigged by Yameen.

MEA reacted quickly to salvage the situation the same day by issuing an official statement saying that Swamy’s tweet was personal and didn’t reflect Indian government’s views.

Male’s decision to ask India to remove the two ALH Dhruv choppers though is the most serious crisis in recent times to have hit India’s ties with the Maldives which under the Abdulla Yameen government has unabashedly courted China for economic and security cooperation.

Male seems to be upset with Indian authorities for what it says “manufacturing” false claims that the Maldives had agreed to keep the choppers.

While it is still negotiating with India the possibility of acquiring a Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft, Male authorities continue to maintain that the choppers are no longer of any use to them. With the issue involving denial of work permits to Indians not fully resolved, some of India’s projects in the Maldives are also hanging fire.

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India will remove the helicopters when it is ready to do so and not before. There is not much you Mallus can do about it. We are bigger and better than you so the sooner you stop being a pain in the butt the better.
Please please please do not threaten to report us to the Chinese!