JBS Vol 23. Num 1. 2021. Article 3 - COVID-19 and Political Leadership

Mehnaz Hoque
Maliha Tabassum
Nur E Makbul

Newspapers in Bangladesh published news and statements from the country’s political leaders indicating the government’s response, strategy, and initiatives related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The authors analyzed speeches from March to December 2020 to understand how texts act as manifestations of political agendas and reflect underlying ideologies through the usage of metaphors. This study employs a critical discourse framework that reveals four major metaphors – “war” to identify the virus as the enemy to the leadership; “fearless leadership” to represent the government’s efficiency in combatting the pandemic; “harmless virus” to deceive citizens, and finally “new nationalist” attitudes to put one’s country first. Together, these metaphors deliberately diverted public attention away from the grave reality of the pandemic. Findings from this study suggest that the leaders’ response to the catastrophe generated a misleading notion about the pandemic and reflected Bangladesh’s patron-client political culture. This study has implications in understanding political leadership in the Global South during a pandemic situation and/or catastrophe. 

Political Leadership
Critical Discourse Analysis