Subramanian Swamy
Subramanian Swamy.NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images

The already simmering tensions between India and Maldives have escalated further after a tweet by Subramanian Swamy, BJP Rajya Sabha MP, calling for invasion of the country if the September 23 elections are rigged.

According to a report in The Indian Express, Indian High Commissioner to Maldives Akhilesh Mishra was summoned by Maldivian Foreign Secretary Ahmed Sareer who conveyed the country's displeasure at the tweet. The Maldivian government also issued a demarche to the Indian government expressing shock at Swamy's statement.

Swamy tweeted on August 24 that "India should invade Maldives if rigging of elections takes place". The tweet also had a link to a news report about a meeting between Swamy and former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed in Colombo, Sri Lanka, early last week. After their meeting, Swamy had tweeted on August 22 that Nasheed feared that there would be gross rigging of elections and India being a neighbour can't allow that to happen. Swamy went on to say that an action plan is needed adding that the current Maldives President Abdullah Yameen had humiliated Indians.

"The opinion expressed by Dr Swamy is personal. It doesn't reflect the views of the Government of India," said a spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs when asked to respond to the tweet.

Mishra also conveyed the same message to Sareer during their interaction.

On August 26, Swamy again tweeted on the issue, saying, "Why is the Govt of Maldives upset by my "If then" statement that if Maldives' general election is rigged then India should invade that nation? Indians there fear reprisals and we have to protect them".

Maldives is getting increasingly suspicious about India's role after Delhi expressed its displeasure over the announcement of the polls when democratic institutions, including parliament and judiciary, are not being allowed to work in a free and transparent way.

India is pressing the Maldives Government to restore political process and rule of law before elections are held and Swamy's tweet is being seen by Maldivians as a pointer to Indian strategy and a provocative statement from the ruling BJP party.

Relations between the two countries have spiralled downwards since February, 2018 when Yameen declared a 45-day emergency despite India's objections.