This December, Bangladesh is scheduled to hold its eleventh national elections to choose a new government for the next five years. As per Bangladeshi constitution, the country is a parliamentary democracy, where general elections are held every five year. The current government led by Bangladesh Awami League (BAL)has been in power since January 2009, wining a second term in 2014, through what critics deem as a questionable general election. Their major opposition, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its coalition partners boycotted the 2014 General Elections, in protest against the lack of transparency. Last time the possibility of holding free and fair elections was impossible, as the ruling party had not only consolidated its power, but had also planted loyalists in all constitutional and administrative bodies. The Election Commission of Bangladesh (EC)- by and large- has been serving the needs of the ruling party. The sole agenda of these bodies was to ensure the ‘smooth’ continuation of BAL’s second term. During the previous elections, while opposition parties were boycotting, India openly played a vital role in favour of BAL. The entire state machinery of India – one of the largest democracies in the world – had extended full support to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. During her ten year tenure, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina never hesitated in fulfilling any request from India, thus gaining full favour from the Indian policymakers. In the eyes of Indians, Sheikh Hasina stands as the only trustworthy politician in Bangladesh, and wants to see her remain in power indefinitely. However the The Indian Express, states that Sheikh Hasina is extremely unpopular in Bangladesh, and according to Bartelsman Stiftung, A German based research group, Bangladesh is currently under autocratic rule. Even Washington has been repeatedly expressing its hopes for free and fair elections, in Bangladesh. However, many believe that there is truly no real hope of any neutral election in Bangladesh. The ruling party has made every possible arrangement to ensure its victory. It has placed loyalists in all key positions of both the armed and civil administration. The chief of EC, Nur-ul-Huda is a known BAL activist. Even heads of intelligence agencies are handpicked by the Prime Minister! Most critics will hold; that Bangladesh is a total dictatorship. Numerous intimidating missions are carried out against opposition parties, the media is under heavy censorship, and thousands of false cases have been lodged against activists Freedom of expression and freedom of press is gouged, while oppression against religious minorities is continuing in full swing. Leader of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Khaleda Zia is sent to prison with a court verdict of rigorous imprisonment. According to observers, the court was forced to convict Ms. Zia wrongly in the false corruption charges. Moreover a series of false cases have now been lodged against her, with the clear agenda of keeping her in prison indefinitely. Moreover, the ruling party has influenced the Election Commission to abruptly switch to Electronic Voting Machines during the next elections, for a significant number of seats. Such decisions have been made, hiding ulterior motives of electoral manipulation, beneath them. According to sources from Dhakka, these EVMs would be imported from an Indian company. Hasina’s son Sajeeb Wajed Joy, an IT specialist is supervising the purchase. When asked about the sudden purchase, a former official from EC said that the ruling party is aware that they cannot even win 70 out of 300 seats, hence they are looking for other measures to ensure their third consecutive win. Most critics will hold; that Bangladesh is a total dictatorship. Numerous intimidating missions are carried out against opposition parties, the media is under heavy censorship, and thousands of false cases have been lodged against activists. The government is so intolerant that it took drastic action against school children demanding safer roads. Leaders of the ruling party, alongside some ministers had openly expressed anger against the children for exercising their right to protest, and demand safer roads. It must be mentioned here, that reckless driving in Bangladesh is a serious national problem, due to which thousands of people lose their lives each year. The government mostly does not take action against the guilty drivers, as two cabinet members own road transport associations. These individuals are openly extending support towards drivers and transport works, to the extent that they are refraining the government from passing stricter laws for traffic violations. However, all is still not lost in Bangladesh as elections loom ahead. There is a strong, silent political movement being carried out by the BNP and its coalition partners. BNP has been negotiating with all political parties and fronts for some time now, finally to emerge as a strong hopeful force in the nation. There are also whispers, that a military intervention -similar to the one on January 11, 2007- could take place. If it does, then the possibility of Nobel Prize Laureate Mohammad Yunus emerging as a saviour of the nation, backed by the army, could also be true. On the other hand, sources in Dhaka have moved past Yunus and focused instead; on Sir Fazle Hassan Abed, founder of BRAC, the largest NGO in the world. However nothing can be said with certainty as the situation in Bangladesh remains extremely tense and fluid. The only hope is for democracy to flex its muscle, and let the nation decide its own path through free, fair and participatory elections. Benzamin Mendez is a research-scholar and former university professor Published in Daily Times, September 8th 2018.