In March 2006, CPD initiated a Nagorik Forum (Citizen’s Forum) titled National Election 2007: Civil Society Initiative for Accountable Development. The initiative was shared by a Nagorik Committee (Citizen’s Committee) which brought together 27 eminent citizens of the country. Professor Rehman Sobhan, Chairman, CPD was the Convener of the Forum and Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, the then Executive Director of the CPD, was the Member-Secretary. CPD’s experience of 2001, when it prepared 16 Policy Briefs, and in 2003 when it took an initiative to review the progress of recommendations set out in those Policy Briefs, guided the work of this programme which was aimed at contributing to the then forthcoming elections to be held in 2007. The focus this time was mainly to promote the cause of good governance which was emerging as an issue of increasingly critical importance in the country. The initiative was to contribute to the 2007 election process by bringing the issue of honest and competent candidates at the core of the election debate in Bangladesh.
The work of the Forum was kicked-off at an event that was participated by about 1,200 individuals from various segments of the society. On the occasion, members of the Nagorik Committee 2006 presented eight goals of Bangladesh: Vision 2021 prepared under the aegis of the Committee through consultation with major stakeholders. As part of this initiative, CPD organised 15 Regional dialogues across the country, at various division/district levels. The objective of the exercise was to mobilise public opinion in support of accountable and transparent development process. Concern of the common citizens as regards the future of Bangladesh, their demand for a free and fair election to be participated by clean and competent candidates, their aspirations for a prosperous, peaceful and progressive Bangladesh, and their sincere desire to contribute to such a future was most tellingly visible in the course of this entire exercise. Based on the inputs from the dialogues and consultations, CPD prepared three documents namely Citizen’s Aspirations, Amendments to the Representation of People’s Order 1972, and Bangladesh: Vision 2021. These documents were handed over to the leaders of major political parties. CPD’s media partners throughout this entire exercise were Prothom Alo, The Daily Star and Channel i. This initiative of the CPD remains a telling example of how civil society aspirations can be galvanised around certain issues, and how such initiatives can have profound impact on people’s perceptions and can stimulate them to actions in favour of good governance.