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Maldives: What prompted India to back early polls?

Feb 19, 2012 09:55 AM IST India India

New Delhi: Initially in support of the coup in Maldives, India has now changed it's position and wants early elections in the island nation. But initially, the speed with which the largest democracy in the world abandoned the youngest democracy in Maldives has left many bewildered. what has prompted this change?

When Mohammed Nasheed became the first democratically elected president of the Maldives, he opened the doors for New Delhi like never before. The GMR got the contract to rebuild the international airport, prompting religious extremists calling for Nasheed's head.

But more important, after trying in vain for 3 decades, India had finally got a strategic foothold in the Indian Ocean. In an exclusive security arrangement with India, Nasheed allowed Delhi to install coastal radars on all 26 atolls. This coastal radar chain was networked into the Indian coastal radar system. India permanently based two helicopters to enhance surveillance and speed up its ability to respond to threats.

So many are wondering why India dumped Nasheed so quickly after the coup? CNN-IBN tells you the inside story of how India goofed-up.

It appears India's disenchantment with Nasheed had been building up over the last two years claiming that he was getting too close to the US and China.

But even a week before he was ousted in a coup, Nasheed was given an ultimatum by top officers of his armed forces to sign a defence agreement with China, a pact that he had been refusing to clear for the past three months.

The army officers pushing him to sign were led by Brig Gen Farhat Shaheer, who is now deputy chief .

Analysts are asking whether India misread the ongoing political struggle for the second time in four years. On the eve of elections in 2008 then Indian High Commissioner AK Pandey reported that Nasheed was hardly a force. He recommended continued support to former dictator Mamoon Abdul Gayoom. Nasheed won and Pandey was removed.