[The views expressed here were presented at the roundtable meeting of The Dhaka Forum yesterday.]After all these years of carelessness and indifference of the civil society we are no more at the crossroads, the country is being led to a wrong and opposite direction. To decide the question of going forward it is vital to recognize that violence of others does not justify the government to hold voter less election and win as elected. The constitutional compulsion to hold election means the duty of the government to create proper atmosphere for the voters to exercise their voting rights to choose the government of their choice. Not being able to protect people’s vote, even for the violence of others, is a failure of the government and does not give the sitting government excuses to declare itself to be the elected government of the people. So the losers are the people and not any political party. The people are justified in seeing themselves as cheated. Such an example must not remain as a dangerous precedent for any unpopular government to provoke violence to win elections. We cannot allow ourselves to be treated as fools. No less than 153 seats were distributed among themselves sitting indoors and others were arranged virtually uncontested. The political freedoms are to be defended collectively or not at all. Where democracy is not defended by the civil society, democracy dies. If we had strong civil society our politics could not have grown into a business enterprise or a corruption business. The law and order situation would not have so worsened that rising extra-judicial killings and disappearances have raised international concern. The challenge is: Are we fit to govern ourselves or the need for us is to have foreign interference to impose on us outside wishes? Surely, we do not celebrate the liberation war for losing our voting rights or for replacing one kind of occupation by another. The voting right is your right and my right and any manipulation to deny it is a serious betrayal of the people’s trust and denial of democracy. When people lose, we all lose and that is how the freedom is preserved for all. The members of civil society in any democracy takes such blatant undemocratic aggressions as a challenge of their own. The foreign diplomats were seen worried and became active over our election for a negotiated settlement between the government and the opposition. They did not care to consider that elections are about voters right and not a matter of negotiation between political parties.The greater shame for the whole nation is that the fate of our election and with it the future of our democracy was decided by the foreign diplomats. This happened not only this time but also in the past. We remained indifferent. All this does not show our competence to protect our freedoms and manage our affairs.The reason is, most of us have fell into the trap of allurement of politicization to become political activists of political parties and loyal supporters of party leadership of one or the others. Thus, as lawyers, journalists, teachers, even as businessmen, we have become divided and disunited to be an effective pressure group for the democratic cause of the nation. Our collective failure should be on our conscience to urge us to play our role as assigned in a democracy. As politics of dialogue has no chance, we need mediation to come out of the crisis. It is surely not independence to live in a free country but not be able to elect our government through free and fair elections.In order to regain our position for the role unavoidably ours, we, as members of the civil society, must condemn politicization of the professionals and plead with them to shun it. Democracy and politicization cannot subsist together.Suggestions:(a) Our way forward from this ill-fated democratic dead end and endless violence that awaits us lies in reversing the course for rescuing the democratic order of rule of law and holding an all inclusive multiparty election. By defying the people and through police excesses there cannot be stability or peace. Crushing of democracy will not be helpful for economic growth and international cooperation either. (b) In place of the election of the few and for the few that was held on 5th January, we must have fresh a election of the people and for the people sooner than later.(c) But fresh election to be meaningful we must have political reform to make sure that democracy works and the democratic institutions function as they must. Had the judiciary remained unaffected by politicisation as it should be, in a democracy, then the constitutional crisis over the election would not have arisen and those now arose could have been solved through the Supreme Court peacefully.(d) To help new brave leadership to come up for mending the broken system, nobody should be allowed to hold the post of Prime Minister more than two terms altogether. Without democratic change of leadership at the top of a political party authoritarianism got entrenched. We must change the face of democratic crisis. We must give our young ones hope to dream big dreams. This is the nation’s demand on us.(e) The 15th amendment to the Constitution has to go to restore the people’s Constitution of multiparty democracy. We have to create mass awareness against the 15th amendment as being the main obstacle to holding free election free from the control of the party government.(f) Corruption has worked freely and openly to corrupt the democratic system for paving the way for the one-party system to fortify not the rule of law but the rule of corruption.(g) It must be our priority to fight corruption defiantly and to do that the Anti-Corruption Commission needs to be reorganized to make it truly independent. It is a disservice to have the Anti-Corruption Commission that is politically subservient.(h) The life of the parliament should be reduced from five years to four years like in the United Kingdom. That will give people an early chance to assess performance of the government. The people are found impatient for change of incompetent and corrupt governments.(i) If the President of the country is to be elected by the parliament like now then support of the majority in the opposition will also be necessary to give him the greater prestige of his high position. He may be acceptable as election time impartial government.