NEW DELHI: The Maldives lost its bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council from the Asia Pacific region last Friday to Indonesia, fuelling speculation that India had not just voted, but lobbied against the tiny archipelago in the Indian Ocean.
Each year, five new non-permanent members are elected by a secret ballot for a two-year term to the UN body. To win, a member state must receive at least two-thirds of all votes cast for that seat. Indonesia secured 144 votes against 46 for the Maldives.
Despite the growing chill in relations between New Delhi and Male, Maldives fisheries minister Mohamed Shainee, who was in New York as the president’s special envoy for the vote, had expressed confidence in India’s support, saying he had it “in writing”.
“According to Indian foreign ministry, our two countries will never be separated despite facing small issues,” Shainee was quoted as saying just before he left for New York.
“The relationship between Maldives and India will not be affected long-term by such things.”
This despite the fact that bilateral relations had spiralled downwards after President Abdulla Yameen declared Emergency in January, ignoring calls from New Delhi and other capitals to respect the rule of law.
Yameen’s growing tilt towards Beijing has also raised concerns in New Delhi. Reports that Male newspapers had job advertisements saying “Indians need not apply” didn’t help matters.
While the MEA said it rarely discussed “secret ballots” at the UN, sources pointed to the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is yet to visit Maldives, while he was in Indonesia recently where he raised the relationship to a special strategic partnership.