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Indian MP provokes outrage with call to invade Maldives

Subramanian Swamy was rebuked by both government and opposition supporters.



An Indian ruling party politician provoked outrage on both sides of the Maldives political divide by suggesting that India should invade its tiny neighbour.

“India should invade Maldives if rigging of election takes place,” Subramanian Swamy, a member of the upper house of the Indian parliament, tweeted Friday with a Raajje news story about his meeting with former president Mohamed Nasheed to discuss the opposition’s concerns over electoral fraud.

Ministers, ruling party lawmakers and state media promptly seized on the tweet and tied it with a nationalist appeal to reject the Maldivian Democratic Party candidate.

“What we have been saying about the vote on 23/09/2018 being a vote to defend the Maldives’ independence and sovereignty is being proven as the truth,” tweeted Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muizz.

“MDP is keeping close ties and consulting with people who say the Maldives must be invaded.”

Defence Minister Adam Shareef Umar declared that Maldivians would not allow foreign powers to threaten sovereignty or meddle with internal affairs. He appealed against actions that strain “friendly ties with neighbouring countries”.

The state-funded Public Service Media labelled Swamy a pro-Israeli and anti-Islamic politician who “encourages inhumane activity against India’s Muslims”. It has been “proven that he was behind inhumane acts such as burning [Muslims] alive”.

Both before and after the tweet, the state media claimed that Nasheed had asked Swamy to invade the Maldives.

Swamy’s tweet drew a torrent of angry responses from Maldivians, including opposition figures and senior diplomats under Nasheed’s administration.

Opposition vice presidential candidate Faisal Naseem called the remark “irresponsible” and declared that “we openly oppose it.” He tweeted: “India will always remain our closest friend. India will not do anything that would disrupt that relationship.”

On Saturday morning, the opposition Adhaalath Party issued a statement condemning the tweet, which it called a “personal call” that was contrary to the neighbourly view of the Indian government and people.

The Maldives is an independent state and there are no circumstances that could warrant a military invasion, the party said.

Indian governments have shown they would not threaten Maldivian sovereignty, it added, expressing concern with President Abdulla Yameen’s “aimless” foreign policy.

Traditionally close ties with India has been strained since the Maldives directly rebuked New Delhi over its “deep dismay” about a state of emergency in February. The ruling party parliamentary group leader was later denied entry to India as Malé imposed a deadline to remove two ‘gifted’ helicopters and denied refusing visas for Indian workers.

Earlier this month, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi renewed calls to restore the independent functioning of democratic institutions before the September 23 election.