The government on Sunday distanced itself from remarks made by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy suggesting India should invade the Maldives if the upcoming presidential elections in the Indian Ocean archipelago were rigged.

“The opinion expressed by Swamy in his tweet is personal,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to a query.

“It does not reflect the views of the government of India,” he added.

Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed had expressed apprehensions that the 23 September presidential elections in his country might be rigged by incumbent President Abdulla Yameen’s party during a meeting with Swamy in Colombo on Wednesday.

Swamy subsequently tweeted on Thursday: “India should invade Maldives if rigging of election takes place.”

Political parties and senior leaders in the Maldives have taken a strong exception to Swamy’s remarks, saying they would not allow foreign countries to interfere in the internal affairs of the nation.

Traditional close ties between India and the Maldives have been strained since February when President Yameen declared a state of emergency. India expressed deep dismay over the development.

New Delhi, which believes that President Yameen is being backed by Beijing, recently renewed its call for restoration of the democratic functioning of institutions before the 23 September elections.