In a stinging attack on Congress leadership after the poll drubbing, ally NCP chief Sharad Pawar today said people "do not want weak rulers" but "strong and decisive" leaders like late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the youth have vent their "anger" through the ballot.
Noting that Congress has lost much ground in the assembly elections, he said the polls have raised questions that require serious thinking from "not only the Congress, but the rest of us too", becoming the first UPA leader to speak out his mind after Congress' debacle in four states.
"People need strong, decisive and result oriented leaders. They do not want weak rulers, but they want those who will formulate policies and programmes for poor and implement them with firmness," Pawar said in a statement.
The youth played a big role in this polls that led to Congress defeat, he said, adding, "The new generation.... have given a clear indication of their anger through ballot. "They want leaders who are decisive about their stands and the policies that will benefit the people and do not hesitate to roll out such policies."
Cautioning that when such confidence is lacking in the rulers, other power centres are likely to spring, he said this was the "big lesson" to be learnt from the Assembly election results. He said of late weak leadership at various level has given a rise to bunch of "pseudo activists" who has no connect with ground reality.
"It is observed that not only media but also people in government get influenced by these people. They come up with unrealistic ideas and impression gets created that they are representing people's feelings which is not true," he said.
The 73-year-old Maratha strongman did not take names, but it was apparent that the NCP chief, who left Congress in 1999 to form his own party, was expressing his views on the current leadership of the UPA's leading party.
He insisted that whenever there was a strong and decisive leadership, such forces never came to the fore. "Take example of our late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. She was strong and decisive. She took bold decisions such as nationalisation of banks or ending privy purses, which she implemented with conviction and firmness," he said.
Pawar said that during Indira Gandhi's time such elements that had no connect with the ground reality never surfaced.
He said, "Unlike today, that whole class of people, who are always willing to give their free advice on every matter, was absent then."
"Such is the clout of these free advisors, that people from the media as well as the government fall prey to them and start believing that the opinions of these advisors is that of the people. We need to think about this too."
He said that the new voters played a big role in these elections. They wanted a change and parties that had the capability to bring about this change have been elected.
This has been seen in case of both Rajasthan and Delhi.
Turning to the elections in the national capital, the NCP chief took a dig at Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) which had campaigned promising a corruption free Delhi. "But the same class of people who built the illegal colonies wants them to be legalised. On one hand, the same class of people are responding and voting for AAP's call for a corruption free Delhi and on the other hand, they are demanding that their illegal colonies be legalised. You will find such contradictions in Delhi," he said.
Pawar wondered as "to what was Arvind Kejriwal telling these poor and middle class people?"
"He promised that he would bring onion prices to half if voted to power. This is easier said than done. States cannot control these prices as they depend on demand & supply which largely depends on situations such as drought, availability of water etc."
Besides, when prices of onions and other agricultural produce fall, "the same farmer suffers, but Delhi citizens still want cheap onions", he said calling the national capital a "pampered" city.
"Though the AAP has benefited from such campaigning, today we have a situation when no one party can form the government at Delhi," he said.
Pawar said if AAP comes to power, "I would like to see them bringing down prices of onions, vegetables and electricity. Only then will the public know the truth about their campaign because the states really has no control over these prices."
He said if a leader can be confident and decisive about his people oriented policies, then he will not have to contend with such new power centres. "But, for sure, people want result-oriented leaders," Pawar said.