Male, Feb 14: Dejected by the cold shoulder given by India, ousted Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed said today that New Delhi has taken his party “for granted” and may lose “leverage” to China under the new regime.
Calling himself a great lover of India, Nasheed said unlike the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) of former dictator Abdul Gayoom, his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) was pro-India by ideology.
“My question to Indian establishment is that if they think we did not perform, do they think this is a better option?” asked the 44-year-old who was the first democratically elected President of Maldives, who ascended to power in 2008 after a democratic revolution overthrew Gayoom's 30-year-rule.
“Unlike PPM, we are a group of people who strongly believe in India, their role and functions in Indian Ocean and the relationship that we want with India,” he said speaking to PTI at his residence.
This is not the first time Nasheed has expressed unhappiness with India's response to the political crisis that saw him being deposed last week in what he termed was a coup.
Last week, Nasheed made it plain that he was disappointed that India responded to the crisis without understanding the ground situation in his country.
Nasheed said while India and the US both had failed to gauge the ground reality, it was the smaller European nations that are trying to find out what the situation is and what will be best way forward.
He said India must understand the situation in Maldives and it was “very strange” if it has not.
“The thing is India takes us for granted unlike the PPM. I think this is the biggest reason, a more logical reason. They know we will be with them. It is an ideological thing for us,” said the former president.
Nasheed said China will now start playing a more active role in the country and hinted that Maldives National Defence Force is keen to renew a defence agreement with Beijing.
“They (China) will certainly play an active role now. They will play much-much more active role,” Nasheed said.
He said when his party came into the government in 2008, there was a defence agreement with China. And this was supposed to have been renewed in 2009 and “I didn't”.
“I had this paper on my desk even two weeks back. The MNDF had sent me the letter again saying I have to sign it. And this time they said I have to sign it,” he said.
As unrest continues on Maldivian streets, Nasheed's successor Mohamed Waheed Hassan, is working to put into effect an effective national unity government.
On Sunday, Hassan inducted seven new members from different parties into his cabinet, including two prominent members from the PPM.
Nasheed, whose demand for a snap election has not received support from India, said if Indian government needs to serve its interests, “it must serve the interest of the Maldivians”.
“Did we disturb Indian sensitivities? You can't find a bigger Indian lover than me. Even if they say a thing against India, that is like saying it against me,” Nasheed said. “We never articulated anything anti-Indian and my party has also not done that”.
India had accepted the new government of Hassan soon after he was sworn in as the new President, a move that has upset both Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party.
Told that even the US and United Nations had not offered the kind of support that he had hoped for, the former President said, “Once India says something then it does not matter what the UN or anyone says”.
Nasheed said he would visit India once the current situation becomes normal and will talk to his “friends”.
Nasheed today also vowed to take his fight to the country's Parliament, which is scheduled to start its session on February 23, and even threatened a civil disobedience movement as a last resort.
Meanwhile, the Maldivian Police sought a statement from him in connection with its probe into the controversial order issued by him to arrest a top judge.
Asked if India's move was a setback to its long-term interests, he said, “I think it a very-very bad setback in longer terms”.
“We are their friends and we are the people with whom they can talk. I have always said that,” he said. He said Maldives has very strong pro-India sentiments but it is “losing its leverage in Maldives”.
Asked if he ready to forget everything if he comes back to power, Nasheed said, “I certainly am”.
Nasheed, whose supporters have continued to take to the streets and have also alleged a violent crackdown, said he was never going to sign the defence agreement with Beijing.
“They will probably sign it but there is no point of this agreement with China. Why do we need that... the more tear gas they can have, the more they are going to fire at our people. We are fine. We don't need all these things,” Nasheed said.
According to sources, China has been active in Maldives through its economic diplomacy.
The Foreign Ministry office here along with the National Museum were built by the Chinese.
In Hulumale island, Chinese firms had undertaken the largest housing project in the country building 1000 houses. Incidentally, Ambassador of China accredited to the Maldives, Yu Hongyao had met President Hassan yesterday.
Highlighting the long existing diplomatic relations between the two countries, Ambassador Hongyao assured that the Chinese government was ready to work closely with the new government of the Maldives, a statement issued by the President's office had said.