On day Maldives asks India to withdraw troops, Shashi Tharoor warns of its growing proximity to China

Shashi Tharoor says foreign policy should not be discussed in social media and there has to be a more serious level of engagement.


Published Jan 15, 2024 | 9:12 AMUpdatedJan 15, 2024 | 9:12 AM

Shashi Tharoor

India should certainly be alert about the proximity of Maldives to China and the government must be aware of the danger that this represents, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has said.

China has been attempting to expand its influence throughout India’s periphery, he said at the 54th annual day of Thuglak magazine in Chennai on Sunday, 14 January.

His remarks were made on a day Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu asked India to withdraw its military personnel from his country by 15 March. According to the latest government figures, there are 88 Indian military personnel in the Maldives.

Related: Maldivian minister’s remark on Modi sparks interest in Lakshadweep

The China factor

On the Maldives-India diplomatic row after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lakshadweep islands, Tharoor said, “We have to watch very carefully the increasing proximity of the Maldives government to the Chinese.”

“There is no doubt about the fact that China has been attempting to expand its influence throughout our periphery. They have been increasingly influential in everyone of our neighbouring countries, everyone, without exception,” Tharoor, who had served as the minister of state for external affairs, said.

Elaborating, he said, “we (India) should certainly be alert and I am sure that our government must be aware of the dangers that this represents and there will be some redlines which would be privately communicated among governments.”

“…We have to understand is that you (Maldives) have the right to have relations with other countries like we do, but some things we would see as a serious concern for our interests and in those we will take proper action. So far, I think there was no cause for any alarm,” he noted.

Also Read: Will 2024 be Shashi Tharoor’s last election? Congress MP advocates giving opportunities for youth

Foreign policy and social media

However, he observed that India’s foreign policy should not be discussed in social media and there has to be a more serious level of engagement following the diplomatic row between India and Maldives being widely discussed in various social media platforms.

“We must understand and respect the sensitivities of a small neighbour being close to all,” he said.

Earlier, referring to a question on whether the INDIA bloc alliance would bring Muslims to power, he said, “INDIA bloc would bring Indians to power and I want to remind you that Muslims are also Indians.”

“We should not forget that one of the great strengths of our society is that we have appreciated people of all sorts of backgrounds,” he said.

Also Read: Shashi Tharoor calls for a new southern consciousness to soothe representational fears related to delimitation

Annamalai targets DMK government

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu BJP President K Annamalai, who was present on the occasion, referring to the recent Global Investors Meet organised by the DMK government, said it has attracted ₹6.64 lakh crore and this was comparatively less to what other states have received as investment commitments from multinational companies.

“Tamil Nadu has conducted the investors summit and we have received ₹6.64 lakh crore. Gujarat has garnered ₹26 lakh crore, and Uttar Pradesh received ₹33 lakh core. In 2022, Karnataka conducted a similar investor summit and it received ₹10 lakh crore. But Purvanchal and Bundelkhand alone in Uttar Pradesh have received ₹9.74 lakh crore more than what Tamil Nadu attracted,” he said.

(Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK) Stalin and DMK Ministers should understand that money will always see the future, money will not see the past. What the next 20 years are going to be, how is the economy going to be stable, these are areas they need to focus on,” he said.