All at sea in Male

What happened with GMR in Maldives is not something unfamiliar to large companies — ask Sistema or Telenor who feel unfairly done in by India's 2G politics. GMR is better off as it knows the Maldivian government will have to cough up some $400 million for premature termination of contract if it doesn't negotiate a solution.

This cold truth is also known to President Mohammed Waheed, but there is a political utility for him in targeting GMR now. He is wooing the right wing Adhaalath Party and some other small parties, who attack rival Mohammed Nasheed for approving this contract.

Now, Waheed's own political ambitions have grown beyond being an interim president. And if targeting GMR gets him the numbers in Parliament, so be it. This is politics, after all.

Then why is India so upset? GMR has faced violent attacks in Nepal too. That was condemned, the Indian embassy did its piece, pushed for security and sought to move on. The case here is not the same. The Indian high commissioner has himself become a target of lament with absolutely no stakeholder willing to court him. And that's why Maldives is Indian diplomacy's most embarrassing failure.

D M Mulay's integrity was questioned publicly by the President's spokesman and New Delhi had to step in to restore some pride. Just how untactful can an emissary get to become a part of the problem is a question South Block has been guilty of overlooking through the Maldivian crisis.

New Delhi desisted from intervening when Nasheed was ousted because it did not want to meddle in the affairs of neighbours. But by that logic, what was the need to hurriedly facilitate Waheed's endorsement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the day after he became president?

Had it not been for that phone call, Waheed's legitimacy would have faced a sterner test. Nine months down the line when Waheed targets Indian interests, one has to ask - who pushed for that phone call?

Nasheed was quick to issue a statement Wednesday supporting GMR, but not a word for the Indian mission.

Let's face it, India is facing a credibility crisis in Malé. It's time New Delhi steps back and reassesses, before this snowballs into an anti-India campaign, impacting more sensitive areas of cooperation.

For starters, post a new high commissioner and take fresh guard.

Pranab is a deputy editor based in Delhi

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