Amidst a storm of controversy and diplomatic fallout, #BoycottMaldives has surged across social media platforms, amassing over 5,000 posts on X
This outcry against Maldives has echoed not just among Indian citizens but also reverberated within international spheres, triggering a significant wave of condemnation.
Backlash Triggered by Modi’s Lakshadweep Visit:
1. Narendra Modi’s Visit and Subsequent Derogatory Remarks:
Incident: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Lakshadweep islands on January 2-3 garnered global attention. Following this, pictures promoting tourism to the island were posted on Instagram.
Derogatory Comments: Three deputy ministers from Maldives, Malsha Shareef, Abdulla Mahzoom Majid, and Mariyam Shiuna, resorted to mocking PM Modi, labeling him as a “clown” and a “puppet of Israel.”
2. Explosive Reactions and Industry Impact:
Public Outcry: The disparaging comments ignited fierce backlash from citizens, public figures, and companies globally.
Corporate Response: EaseMyTrip took a bold step, announcing the suspension of all flights to Maldives in solidarity with the Indian government. Prashanti Pitti, Co-Founder, confirmed the impact on the platform, affecting around 2.4 lakh annual bookings.
3. Celebrities and Government Actions:
Celebrity Support: Prominent figures like Akshay Kumar, Sachin Tendulkar, and Ranveer Singh lent their support to the government and advocated for local tourism.
Diplomatic Stand: India’s Ministry of External Affairs summoned the Maldivian High Commissioner in Delhi, expressing concerns over the derogatory comments against PM Modi.
Fallout and Government Measures:
4. Consequences Faced by Ministers:
Swift Actions: The deputy ministers swiftly removed their comments from social media but faced suspension following the public uproar.
Government Response: Maldives distanced itself from the suspended ministers’ views, emphasizing responsible freedom of expression and cautioning against spreading negativity.
5. Political Context and Diplomatic Strain:
Strained Relations: The incident arises amid strained ties between the two countries, exacerbated by President Mohamed Muizzu’s apparent inclination to reduce defense ties with India.
Geopolitical Shift: Muizzu’s upcoming visit to China marks a departure from protocol, bypassing the traditional initial visit to India by a newly appointed Maldivian president.
Critical Perspectives and Geopolitical Implications:
6. Former President’s Views and Bilateral Dynamics:
Nasheed’s Condemnation: Former President Mohamed Nasheed condemned Shiuna’s language, highlighting the significance of maintaining a positive relationship with India.
Diplomatic Impact: The incident casts a shadow on bilateral relations, with Muizzu’s actions signaling a shift in Maldives’ geopolitical orientation towards China, diverging from past precedents.
This controversy significantly impacts diplomatic ties, raising questions about responsible discourse, diplomatic protocol, and the evolving geopolitical landscape in the region, encapsulating a broader narrative of strained relations and shifting alliances in the geopolitical area.