With an associate like Nitish Kumar, anything is possible - Prime Minister Narendra Modi's outsized compliment for the Bihar Chief Minister was a highlight of his address today on the launch of key projects in the state that will soon vote for a new assembly.
The comment served to underline Nitish Kumar's leadership of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the Bihar election due in weeks and that he has the Prime Minister's full backing. It also delivered a message to another ally, Chirag Paswan, who has been publicly throwing darts at the Chief Minister and has made it clear that his Lok Janshakti Party is not very happy about Nitish Kumar's leadership.
"If there is will and resolve and a sahyogi (associate) like Nitish Kumar, what is not possible?" PM Modi said, as he talked about rail projects that he said were delayed for years but fast-tracked by the NDA.
In May, Mr Paswan had commented that he would support the BJP "whether it goes with Nitish Kumar's leadership or changes its mind".
Since then, the BJP has declared multiple times that Nitish Kumar is the chief ministerial face of the NDA and the Bihar election will be fought under his leadership.
The Prime Minister said projects that had slowed down during the rule of the UPA (Congress-led alliance) were completed in record time by the NDA.
Inaugurating various rail projects, PM Modi called the ''Kosi Rail Mahasetu'' a dream project of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nitish Kumar, who was Union Railway Minister at the time. After the Vajpayee government, the project was stalled, he said.
"In 2003, Atal ji was the prime minister and Nitish ji railway minister when the new Kosi rail line was planned with an aim to solve the problems being faced by people of Mithila and Kosi," PM Modi said.
The groundbreaking ceremony was done in 2003 by the former Prime Minister but the next year, his government lost power. "If they (UPA) had cared for the people of Mithilanchal and the people of Bihar, then the Kosi rail line project would have been completed on time," he said.
"In this period, who was in charge of Railways, whose government it was, I do not want to go into that but the truth is that if the speed of work had been the same under our government then the project would have taken ages to complete," the Prime Minister said.