‘Boycott Maldives’ trends on social media after Minister’s post on PM Modi’s Lakshadweep visit riles Indians 

Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Lakshadweep boosting tourism in the Indian archipelago with white sandy beaches and turquoise waters that can rival tourist magnet Maldives, “Boycott Maldives” trends on social media following a tweet by a minister of the country. 

PM Modi’s pictorial posts from his snorkeling experience in Lakshadweep went viral. Photo courtesy: Narendra Modi X

PM Modi’s visit to the country’s smallest Union Territory comprising 36 islands with an area of 32 sqkm was seen as a move to promote tourism on the island.

Soon after the visit, in his tweet, the Maldives minister accused India of competing with his country and said India faces significant challenges in beach tourism.

Zahid Rameez, a member of the Progressive Party of Maldives Senate, said the idea of Lakshadweep competing with their country is delusional. 

Sharing snippets from his visit, PM Modi posted images of him snorkelling in the Lakshadweep that went viral, prompting social media users in India to suggest the island Union Territory as an alternate tourist destination to the Maldives.

The same came at a time when India-Maldives ties have been strained after President Mohamed Muizzu came to power.

Muizzu took over as President in November 2023. In his election pledge, he said he would remove a small contingent of some 75 Indian military personnel in his island nation and change Maldives’s “India first” policy.

Muizzu, who is seen as a pro-China politician, took oath as the eighth President of the Maldives after defeating his India-friendly predecessor Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the presidential run-off held in September.

The new Maldives President met PM Modi in Dubai on the sidelines of the COP28 climate talks in December 2023. Both leaders had agreed to set up a core group to discuss the multidimensional relations and further deepen ties.

The meeting also took place after Muizzu asked New Delhi to withdraw 77 Indian military personnel from the Maldives and decided to review more than 100 bilateral agreements between the two countries.

The tweet by the Maldivian minister triggered a major row on social media with #BoycottMaldives trending.

In a tweet, columnist Suhel Seth wrote: “My advice to some Maldivians. Support India and you will be invited to summits; lectures and festivals here. Support the Maldives Government and you will do diddly Jack! Pick your coconut wisely!”

Another columnist Sunanda Vashisht tweeted: “What is with folks from Maldives taking such umbrage to Prime Minister of India visiting his own territory and promoting his own country? No other country was named. PM @narendramodi routinely promotes beauty and diversity of all parts of India as part of Incredible India campaign. Maldives officials having a meltdown is ludicrous. Why worry about Indian travelers so much? China should be able to fill the gap for you?”

An X user wrote: “When we have Lakshadweep, why to go to Maldives….I have decided to #BoycottMaldives Maldives Govt thinks Indians are not important….Let’s show our importance by boycotting Maldives wholly…..”

Another wrote: “Full Maldives Govt advertisers pimps out in full flow begging to Bharat tourists, thinking we are nation full of ungrateful traitors they can lure without apologizing. Bharatwasis show them your #BoycottMaldives Nation of Jihadis rapists women molestors Govt protects.”