Two recent reports aired by news broadcaster Al Jazeera on Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, clearly exposed the inclination of these rulers to expand authoritarian regime in their respective realm.
The host of this programme Canadian broadcaster Richard Gizbert in his show “The Listening Post” has revealed the role of Brazil’s President Bolsonaro during the Covid-19 pandemic and how the mainstream media were controlled and manipulated by the state.
A passionate supporter of US President Donald Trump, former military officer Jair Bolsonaro during his presidential election campaign in 2018 had advocated for free trade and market oriented policy and declared his fervent position in favour of these policies.
Similarly, setting the mainstream media aside, Bolsonaro had extensively used different social media platforms like facebook and twitter as his indispensable campaign tools.
This 38th President of Brazil, also a social media stardom (Bolsonaro after taking his tenure has been constantly opposing all the left-wing policies) has recently declared Covid-19 as a common flu and stringently revealed his personal position against maintaining physical/social distances to prevent spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, where Covid-19 infected casualties in Brazil has already surpassed all other countries across the globe except the USA, this fascist ruler (Bolsonara has been constantly praising Brazil’s 1964-1985 U.S dictatorial military regime as a prosperous time in the political history of Brazil. Moreover supporters of Bolsonaro has been putting pressure on the Supreme Court of the Country not to release the former President Lula from prison) has openly opined that Corona pandemic is a very common disease and there is no point worrying about this. In order to protect their business interests, most of the TV channels and newspapers unconditionally supported the position of the President.
On April 25, in the same programme–“India’s Lockdown: Narratives of Inequality and Islamophobia,” it was said that just before the announcement of nationwide lockdown in India, Prime Minister Modi met with media owners and editors and asked them to work as a link between the Government and the people and to produce positive news stories.
“Just hours before it was announced, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with media owners and editors and asked them to ‘Serve as a link between the Governments and people’. In other words, to produce positive news stories. Simple request or tacit warning?” said Al Jazeera in the report.
The broadcaster also contended that India’s news channels have tried to appropriate Islamophobia during the coronavirus pandemic. The show has also mentioned that some of the news channels of India have tried to demonize the Muslim community in spreading coronavirus.
The exasperating behaviour of these two leaders undoubtedly revealed two important socio-political contexts. Firstly, these authoritative rulers have started to gag the freedom of expression systematically, which has been considered one of the most fundamental structures for any democratic political system.
As it became impossible for media houses to sustain without the backing of these rulers, it is quite suspicious how these media houses would survive and to what extent they can serve the interests of the people as the pandemic has pushed the global economy into massive decline.
Secondly, we have seen the emergence of new authoritarian leadership in some countries as well where after the opening up of the era of liberal economy, those groups formed government in their respective territories who are intended to sustain a centralised power system.
It is apparent that taking advantage of this lockdown situation these rulers will become more authoritative and they will try to destroy the federal structure of these countries. Many political scientists and intellectuals have pointed out that during lockdown some kind of structural changes have taken place in a country like India. Such structural changes in this regime have been observed as follows:
- In the pretext of the crisis of global pandemic Covid-19, the Central Government has not released the GST fund from its coffers occurring to the state government. This is a deliberate attempt by the Centre to impede financial stability of the states and more dependency on the Centre for economic resources and capital.
In the absence of a planning commission to combat an economic turmoil resulted for an epidemic devastation, it would increasingly become difficult for the state government to sustain their employees.
The growing frustration of the masses will lead to rebellion against the state government for its non performance especially in a situation like the current pandemic when the entire economy comes to a standstill. At this juncture we may anticipate the emergence of the Central government or Modi to emerge as a saviour or “messiah” of the masses.
- Recently the Indian government has imposed a ban on utilising the MPLADS fund. If the MP’S could not utilise this fund in the respective pandemic infected constituency he may politically lose his ground.
Undoubtedly in that situation every person of this country will be left with no chances instead of asking help from the Central government. Here also we may anticipate the emergence of the Indian Government or Prime Minister as a saviour of the corona infected patients.
Renowned Historian Ram Chandra Guha in his essay Opinion: Via Virus Crisis, Modi furthers cult of his Personality opined that the Central government initiatives PM-Cares fund will create discrimination towards the state government.
As the contribution towards PM-Cares fund has been exempted from the tax, those companies who are going to contribute to this fund under the corporate social responsibility (CSR), even after having the longing to donate will not do the same to the CM fund.
As the PM-Cares fund enjoys relaxation from the CAG accountability, PM can take any authoritative decisions in utilising this huge amount of funds. Therefore those who are giving sermons not to do politics during pandemic must pay attention towards these transformations that have been occurring gradually in our socio-political structural.
It is important to keep in mind that people who are irrationally supporting the current government are keeping their eye blind towards the occurrences that have shaken our federal structure. And in no way, we can support an authoritarian regime that destroys the spirit of a democracy.