The remarks by three Maldives ministers – which included comments critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – “challenged the dignity of India”, Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel told NDTV Monday. “India will never tolerate such an insult (and) the entire country showed solidarity with the Prime Minister,” he said, adding, “I want to thank the people of India for standing by the PM and Lakshadweep.”
Mr Patel also waved away talk of demanding a public apology from Maldives, pointing out the ministers who made the comments had been disciplined. “We are not going to talk about it (a public apology)… our values are different… they did not need to make such comments. They have been punished by the government for their actions. This showed India will not tolerate any insult to its PM. From Bollywood celebrities to cricketers as well as ordinary people… India has given a befitting reply to the Maldives.”
The row began after Maldivian ministers Maryam Shiuna, Malsha Shareef and Mahzoom Majid posted critical remarks about Mr Modi on X. This was after the Prime Minister posted photos and videos from his visit to Lakshadweep, in which he was seen snorkelling and relaxing on pristine beaches. The PM’s posts prompted social media users to push for Lakshadweep as an alternate holiday destination.
The Maldives – which relies heavily on Indian tourists for revenue – reacted swiftly. “Those who made such posts on social media while in government positions have been suspended…” the island nation said.
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The incident has, though, snowballed into a political and diplomatic flash point, particularly with opposition lawmakers in that country using this to attack the ruling party. Former President Mohamed Nasheed called the remarks “appalling” and asked his successor, Mohamed Muizzu, to distance his government from these comments. India, meanwhile, has summoned the Maldives envoy in Delhi.
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Ties between the two nations have been strained ever since Mohamed Muizzu, seen largely as a pro-China leader, was elected President.
Following his election to the top post, Mr Muizzu – due to visit China this week – pushed for the withdrawal of Indian troops from the Maldives on grounds of national security.
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