Shahid: Hard work lands top posts, not India

MDP's leader, former foreign minister Abdulla Shahid during an interview with Sun. (Sun Photo/Mohamed Maavee)

The new leader of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Abdulla Shahid has quashed rumors of his recent appointment to the post was backed by India.

Shahid was appointed as the main opposition party's leader without an election on Tuesday, last week.

Several of the government officials alleged his appointment was backed by India.

In an exclusive interview with 'Sun' last week, Shahid criticized the government over the allegations made against him. While emphasizing his lengthy political career, the new MDP leader asserted current government officials should realize his caliber on achieving feats on his own.

"The people currently running the government uses India as their go-to excuse to invalidate anything I attempt to achieve," he said.

"At this point they may go as far as to claim my birth was influenced by India. This is the extent of their narrative right now," Shahid criticized.

He also noted that he is owed 'at least some' of the credit of his political achievements to date.

"They should give me credit to some extent, isn't it? I have been working for causes personally after all. I am not a political insert by any other party or power," Shahid added.

Muddying the ties with India is impossible

Shahid, an experienced and veteran diplomat, further highlighted that the Maldives cannot distance itself from India as a regional ally regardless of foreign policy changes.

"[India] is tied to us historically, culturally, and in several other ways," he said.

He recalled the foreign military incursion to the Maldives on November 3, 1988 led by Tamil mercenaries, and highlighted the role of Indian military and their assistance in culling the situation.

Shahid also emphasized India was the first of the allies to provide assistance during the 2004 tsunami crisis. He further recalled the water crisis in Male' City, adding India had flown special flights carrying water within four hours of the crisis.

Beyond this, he also recalled India was the first to aid the Maldives in the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.

"India has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world for the past 60 years. It is also the fastest growing economic state with the largest population in the world. So our policies should focus on exploring all avenues from which the Maldives could benefit owing to the economic progress made by India," the former Minister of Foreign Affairs explained.

He also accentuated that the Maldives cannot distance itself the geographical and historical significance India as an ally.

While noting the instrumental role played by India in the development of the Maldives, he denies the rumors of the South Asian ally influencing his political success.