Starting his Lok Sabha campaign in Uttar Pradesh, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday launched a scathing attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena combine for “oppressing” migrants from north India living in Maharashtra.

“Those who talk of bringing development to U.P. are the same people who oppress people of U.P. and Bihar and chase them out of Maharashtra,” Mr. Gandhi said in Pratapgarh, which connects Awadh to Purvanchal, or eastern U.P.

“Recently I was in Mumbai where I visited a man in his jhuggi. He looked worried and asked me 'Who will help us? The Shiv Sena people threaten and harass me.' The same Shiv Sena, which oppresses people from U.P. is aligned with the BJP.” Pratapgarh and adjoining districts are known for providing migrant workers.

The attack comes days after the Shiv Sena entered the fray in U.P. and fielded candidates in prominent seats.

Mr. Gandhi said the 2014 elections was a “battle of two ideologies: One, represented by the Congress, the ideology of the poor and the weak and of inclusion (of all caste and religions). The other represented by divisive politics and anger.”

“We have love and brotherhood in our hearts. They [BJP] have anger. They say they want to exterminate the Congress from the country. But Congress is a thought, embedded in the hearts of India, a united India. We will progress when we engage in the politics of love,” Mr. Gandhi said. He blamed the under-development of U.P. on the “division of people (on caste lines).”

Without naming him, Mr. Gandhi picked out the BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for staking sole claim to the development of Gujarat.

“Opposition parties say India is run by one person. When they speak of Gujarat, they praise one man for its development. But they forget that Gujarat was developed by the people of Gujarat, its men and women. Amul was set up by the people. The country is not run by one man,” he said.

Corruption

The Congress leader accused the BJP of turning a blind eye to corruption. “In Gujarat, they have three Cabinet Ministers who have spent time in jail for corruption. In Karnataka, they re-inducted the former Chief Minister B. S Yeddyurappa even though there are corruption allegations against him,” he pointed out.

Mr. Gandhi promised a “future” where women would get better representation in education, politics, business and entrepreneurship.

“I want 50 per cent representation of women in the Vidhan Sabha and the Lok Sabha, I want women to be CMs and PMs. We introduced the Women's Reservations Bill in Parliament, but the Opposition obstructs it,” he said. “How can India be a superpower without empowering its women?”