Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday praised Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for the implementation of development schemes in the state ahead of the Assembly elections. Modi said Kumar’s decisions ensured that the benefits reached everyone and played a huge role in creating a “new India and new Bihar”.

“Bihar has shown in the last 15 years that development happens when the right government is in place,” Modi said during the launch of three petroleum projects in Bihar, worth over Rs 900 crore. “This way, the benefits of government schemes reach everyone.” The virtual launch of the projects was also attended by Kumar, his deputy Sushil Modi and Union Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

Modi claimed that Bihar lagged in terms of development for several years due to politics and cash crunch. “There was a time when road connectivity, internet connectivity were not discussed,” he said, according to NDTV. “Being a landlocked state, Bihar faced many challenges. Nitish Kumar has played a big role in our aim towards a New India, New Bihar.”

Modi said that even the challenges created by the coronavirus crisis could not deter the people of Bihar. “The global pandemic has brought many problems for the country,” Modi said. “But even after these troubles, the country has not stopped, Bihar has not stopped.”

The prime minister added that Bihar has come a long way in terms of infrastructure and basic amenities. “We know what the power situation in Bihar was,” Modi said. “It was considered sufficient if villages got electricity supply for two to three hours. Even cities did not get more than 8 to 10 hours of electricity. Today, the supply in Bihar is more than ever.”

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Modi said that the young people of the state now have access to better education. “Today, big and important centres of education are opening in Bihar,” he said. “The number of agricultural, medical colleges and engineering colleges is increasing. Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institutes of Management are helping the youth succeed.”

The prime minister added that the Centre was helping develop several energy projects in the state. “We are advancing the development of every sector of Bihar and trying to solve the problems of each sector,” Modi said. “We want Bihar to take a new flight of development.

Modi said that the Centre’s Ujjwala scheme had helped people gain access to gas cylinders. “There was a time when only affluent people could get a gas connections in Bihar,” Modi said. “This has changed now.”

Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) party is a constituent of the ruling National Democratic Alliance in Bihar. Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi-led Hindustani Awam Morcha had joined the alliance earlier this month. The Lok Janshakti Party and Bharatiya Janata Party are the other two members of NDA.

On Saturday, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren met Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad Yadav in Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Ranchi and announced that their parties will jointly contest the Bihar Assembly elections against the NDA. RJD is a part of the ruling alliance in the Soren-led state government, along with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Congress.