Kolkata, Jan 8 (PTI) Senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Monday said that it is a matter of concern that the Maldives with which India has close relationship for decades, is of late preferring China over its nearest neighbour.
Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu is in China on a five-day state visit from Monday during which he is due to hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and sign several agreements to bolster the bilateral ties.
"The Maldives has always preferred India over China, but now it is choosing China. This is an issue of concern for us," Chowdhury, leader of Congress party in Lok Sabha, told reporters at Baharampur in Murshidabad district.
Muizzu's maiden visit to China comes amid a huge diplomatic row triggered by derogatory remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi by three Maldivian deputy ministers after he posted a video of him on a pristine beach during his visit to Lakshadweep. The three were suspended.
"Fissures are coming up in our decades-long relationship with Maldives," the Baharampur MP said.
Chowdhury said that newly-elected presidents of Maldives in the recent past used to visit India first, considering the wide-ranging bilateral ties.
"It is also a matter of concern that China is expanding its influence in Maldives," Chowdhury, also the West Bengal Congress president, said.
Maldives has also requested New Delhi to withdraw 77 Indian military personnel from the island nation and announced its plans to drop a hydrographic survey agreement with India.
Muizzu, who was sworn in as President in November, chose Turkiye as his first destination for a foreign visit soon after his election followed by the UAE where he met Prime Minister Modi on the sidelines of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) on December 1 and discussed the progress of the wide-ranging bilateral ties.
In December, the new Maldives Vice President Hussain Mohamed Latheef visited China, his first visit abroad, and took part in the China-sponsored China-Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation, (CIORF) in Kunming. PTI AMR NN