Noting that there were two `Indias’, the All India Congress Committee general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Thursday stressed on the need to connect the ‘Shining India’ and ‘Backward India’.

He was addressing his first poll campaign meeting in Maharashtra.

“There are two ideologies in these elections. One is the ideology of Congress, the ‘aam admi’. The other is that of the Opposition, the proponents of ‘India Shining’ which is the ideology of a select few,” he said, at the public rally, held just outside the rural hospital in this tehsil town of coastal Raigad district.

Mr. Gandhi described the NREGA as an important achievement of the UPA regime.

“Whenever I go to villages, I ask the villagers what is the Government programme they like the most and the reply is: NREGA,” he said.

Describing the “disparities” in development, Mr. Gandhi said, “today, there are two Indias existing side by side. One is the shining India and another is backward India. We have to work to connect the two Indias.”

“Half of the country is progressing rapidly and the other half lags behind,” he said.

The Gandhi family scion also enumerated the Right to Information Act and loan waiver for farmers as important accomplishments of the UPA government.

“For the past five years, India is going ahead at a rapid pace under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s leadership,” he said.

“The power of India lies in each individual and we have to bring that power to the fore,” the Congress leader said.

“The way we give jobs to people in cities, and there is progress in cities, in the same way we have to connect those left behind, those from villages, with the path of progress,” he said.

“Every person in this country has a right to progress,” Mr. Gandhi said.

The Congress leader is scheduled to address poll rallies at Pune, Shahada and Aurangabad today and at Kalmanuri, Tiwsa, Yavatmal and Chandrapur on Friday.