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Patna: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Saturday, kicked off the centennial celebration of Patna University at Patna Science College campus by showering praise on Bihar and its glorious history while also lauding Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for his 'undying commitment' towards the development of the state.

{gallery}newsimages2017/oct/101417_1{/gallery}Sharing the dais for the first time after Nitish Kumar buried the hatchet earlier this year by walking out of the Mahagathbandhan government in Bihar only to go back to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Prime Minister said that the NDA government has taken a pledge to make Bihar a developed state by 2022 by continuing to formulate and implement policies that were in the larger interest of the state.

"Bihar is blessed with Ganga and Saraswati. Now it's time to bring Goddess Laxmi here too. Bihar has a Chief Minister like Nitish ji who is equally committed to Bihar. Together, we will work hard to make Bihar a prosperous state," Modi, who is known for his soaring rhetoric in his speeches, said at the function attended by many MPs from Bihar, top government officials, educators and past and present students of Patna University.

Joking about the news that he was the first Prime Minister to ever visit Patna University, Modi joked that it appeared his predecessors left one hell of job for him.

Earlier, the PM was welcomed by Bihar Governor Satya Pal Malik, the Chief Minister, a number of leaders from Bihar, and top bureaucrats at the Patna airport from where his motorcade, under heavy security cover, drove to the Patna Science College campus where he was welcomed by PU officials.

Nitish Kumar, in his speech at Patna Science College, welcomed the PM saying it was a red-letter day for Bihar as Modi was the first Prime Minister ever to visit the historical Patna University. Taking advantage of the occasion, Kumar made a fervent appeal to the Prime Minister to accord central university status to Patna University – a demand going back at least 40 years.

Modi, however, without directly turning down the CM's plea, said that he had even bigger plans for the university than just according it central university status.

"This demand for central status is passé in today's age. I want to make 10 universities each from private and government sectors and make them world-class universities. To achieve this goal, we will give an assistance of Rs. 10,000 crore to each of these universities and all they have to do is to make these universities into world-class universities in five years. I ask Patna University to take advantage of this offer," he said.

The Prime Minister also lavished praise on the university saying Patna University played a major role in the nation building and produced a number of great students who went on to earn laurels for both the state and the country.

"Bihar has produced the largest number of civil servants in the country. Today you cannot find a state where a Bihari is not in the top-five list of the bureaucrats," he said.

Bihar Governor Satya Pal Malik. Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, senior BJP leaders and Union Ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Ram Kripal Yadav, LJP President and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) chief and Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha, and PU Vice Chancellor Ras Bihari Prasad Singh were among many who were present on the occasion.

However, Patna Saheb MP and senior BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) President Lalu Prasad Yadav, both PU graduates, were conspicuous by their absence. Former Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee (BPCC) chief and Education Minister in the Mahagathbandhan government Ashok Kumar Chowdhary was seen in the VIP section of the guests.

On the occasion, a number of university officials were also recognized for their contributions in the area of education.

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