By A Special Correspondent
Elections in Maldives have thrown an unexpected result, once again showing that despots, if they hold free elections, are often shown the door. The result and the victory of Ibrahim Mohamed Solih are good for India. The outgoing president, Abdulla Yameen, had soured age-old ties with India and had titled towards China. Indian origin people form a huge percentage of the population in Maldives. Hence, historically, the two countries have had good relations based on people to people contact, trade and military cooperation.
But Yameen was taken in by the Chinese ruse of promising huge investments without realizing that he was inviting the dragon and would end up being a Chinese colony. China wants to rule the seas and Maldives was important in its scheme of things. The Chinese overtures were all based on future calculations of converting Maldives into a strong base for the navy. But his biggest mistake was spoiling relations with India while trying to improve them with China.
Ibrahim Solih is expected to take a more considered view. He is expected to review all decisions taken by Yameen and rectify those that are not in the interests of the Maldivian people. He is not going to fall for the Chinese efforts to colonize his country. Maldives occupies a strategic position in the Indian Ocean. Even though it is a small country, its location makes it important for sea routes – both merchant and navy. Hence, Maldives should preserve it non-aligned nature and independence at all costs. It is in India’s interests to keep the country neutral.