The Indian backed ruling party of the Maldives, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has lost control over key places in the Maldives during the mid-term elections recently held countrywide, to elect their local governments.
Since the introduction of City, Atoll and island councils, densely populated areas such as Male’ city , Huvadhu Atoll, Ihavandhoo and addu city have always been dominated by MDP. However, for the first time in the country’s multi-party history, MDP has failed to win these councils and many more islands.
Though MDP managed to secure 400 seats compared to the 325 opposition seats, majority voters have casted their votes (overall popular votes) against the ruling party.
One of the main reasons for this drastic change seems to be the current government’s “biased” diplomatic policies with the neighbouring India. During the presidency of former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Qayyoom, BJP government had continuously exerted significant pressure on the government in an effort to deploy Indian military and their military equipments in maldives in various names. However, President Yameen refused to allow any such activity. Furthermore, he also ordered India to take back a helicopter donated by the Indian government, as Indian military failed to train and handover the helicopter to Maldives as initially agreed.
Prime minister Narendra Modi’s government backed the then opposition of Maldives (MDP) and assisted them to win the 2018 presidential elections by “all means” as confirmed by the speaker of Maldives parliament, who is also the leader of the ruling party.
Since MDP came to power, India also assisted in the parliamentary elections in which MDP won a landslide super majority. (65 out of 87 seats). Government and the parliament then started a political agenda with secret agreements between the two countries including long term “lease agreements” of airports , ports .. etc. Millions of dollars worth loans have been granted to Maldives in 2 years which experts suggest as “debt traps” by India. The long kept Maldivian “neutral diplomacy” among neighbours and the entire international community had dramatically shifted towards India. The Maldives government ignored the public concerns over the India Maldives relations becoming a one sided geopolitical “drama” and a “debt trap” rather than a win win diplomacy.
The political balance in maldives currently very much suggests that the Indian backed government has lost control and it looks very likely that the 2023 elections may well be out of India’s control as well.
Rallies calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the jailed former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Qayyoom, social media campaigns against Indian military presence in maldives, and many more opposition political activities are now becoming stronger, especially after the opposition has won super majority in the local government of the capital city Male’
The Express News