On January 4th, Prime Minister Modi posted a series of images showcasing his Lakshadweep islands visit, emphasizing the promotion of tourism in the Union Territory.
The fallout from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promotion of Lakshadweep as a tourist destination escalated when the Maldives government suspended three ministers for ‘derogatory comments.’ Following this development, the High Commissioner to Maldives held discussions with Ministry of External Affairs officials on Monday.
The controversy began with PM Modi’s posts, leading to a social media dispute involving Maldivian users and ministers, transforming it into a significant diplomatic issue.
Explore the unfolding events since PM Modi’s Lakshadweep post sparked an unforeseen reaction:
PM Modi promotes Lakshadweep tourism
On January 4th, Prime Minister Modi posted images from his Lakshadweep visit, promoting tourism in the Union Territory. Although Modi didn’t reference Maldives or other tourist-frequented islands, it elicited offensive, racist, xenophobic, and derogatory remarks from Maldivian social media users.
Maldivian ministers put up social media posts with derogatory remarks on PM Modi
Tensions heightened as diplomats and high-ranking officials joined the fray, echoing and disseminating these comments. Three deputy ministers—Malsha Shareef, Mariyam Shiuna, and Abdulla Mahzoom Majid—from the Maldives’ Youth Ministry criticized Modi’s Lakshadweep post, suggesting it aimed to position the Union Territory as a substitute tourist spot to the Maldives.
The Maldives Government disassociates itself, suspending 3 ministers
The Maldives government officially separated itself from the comments made by ministers and MPs involved in the Lakshadweep vs. Maldives social media dispute following Prime Minister Modi’s Lakshadweep photos. In a statement, the government clarified that derogatory remarks on social media do not reflect the official stance, emphasizing them as personal opinions. Subsequently, the government swiftly suspended the three ministers—Mariyam Shiuna, Malsha Shareef, and Mahzoom Majid.
Union ministers of India back Modi’s Lakshadweep pitch amid row
On Sunday, Minister of State for External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi and Union Minister G Kishan Reddy voiced their support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promotion of Lakshadweep tourism. This came in response to derogatory remarks by three now-suspended Maldivian ministers following PM Modi’s posts.
Emphasizing the importance of Indians exploring domestic tourist spots, Lekhi remarked, “We have to take pride in our history and also take steps to make India ‘atmanirbhar’.“
The Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Development for the North Eastern region, G Kishan Reddy, suggested, ‘No need to visit New Zealand or Switzerland. Everything is in Lakshadweep.’ On the other hand, Congress leader Salman Khurshid advocated for dialogue, declining further discussion on the matter.
Maldives envoy meets MEA officials
On Monday, the High Commissioner of Maldives to India, Ibrahim Shaheeb, engaged with officials from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). As reported by the news agency PTI, the MEA officials expressed their concerns regarding the remarks.
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#BoycottMaldvies trend on social media
As a result, social media saw the hashtag #BoycottMaldives trending, suggesting that certain Indians are reconsidering their planned trips to the Maldives amid the ongoing diplomatic dispute.
Have a look at What Travel Platforms says
India-based online travel company MakeMyTrip reported a remarkable 3,400% surge in on-platform searches for Lakshadweep following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the islands. Additionally, EaseMyTrip announced the suspension of all flight bookings to the island nation on its website as a gesture of solidarity with India.
In a series of posts on X, EaseMyTrip CEO Nishant Pitti emphasized the comparable beauty of Lakshadweep to Maldives and Seychelles. He pledged to introduce special offers to promote this pristine destination that PM @narendramodi recently visited. Pitti encouraged travelers to explore the captivating beauty of Ayodhya and the pristine allure of Lakshadweep, urging them to “Say no to Maldives bookings and explore the wonders of Ayodhya and Lakshadweep.”
Matter of Fact
As per official statistics from the Maldivian government, Indian tourists consistently rank among the top ten nationalities visiting the island annually. In the year 2023 alone, Indians constituted the largest group of tourists, with over 200,000 travelers exploring the Maldives.