India’s domestic political situation has the potential to create a major foreign policy turmoil in the coming years especially from the least expected corners such as Indonesia and the ASEAN. If that happens, New Delhi may bid adieu to its eastward ambitions.
In March this year, the Government of India arrested several members of the Tablighi Jamaat congregation for violating the COVID-19 lockdown guidelines. Out of the 3,500-plus Tablighi members that were booked, 751 were reported to be Indonesian nationals.
According to a recent report in The Wire, over the past eight months, the diplomats from both countries have been trying hard to keep a lid on the possible consequences of the arrests on the bilateral relations of India and Indonesia.
Since the re-election of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in 2019, several of its domestic political decisions — the abrogation of Article 370, the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the release of a redrawn Indian map, amongst others — have had a negative spillover effect on India’s foreign relations. The Tablighi Jamaat issue is another addition to this list, which could have adverse ramifications on New Delhi-Jakarta bilateral relations.