Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi an "iron man" for accelerating the pace of development in the country.
The "Iron Man" sobriquet is used to describe the first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel for his uncompromising commitment to unify the country post-Independence.
Addressing a gathering of monks in Visnagar town in Mehsana district, Adityanath also equated Modi's leadership with that of Mahatma Gandhi and Patel.
"Immediately after Independence, when Iron Man Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had visited Saurashtra, he pledged to renovate the Somnath Temple. This pledge could have been taken for other parts of the country as well but it was the effect of Gujarat's soil... It's a holy land that gave leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Iron Man Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to the country in difficult times.
"And today, the country is similarly surging rapidly ahead under the leadership of iron man Narendra Modiji to reach the top of the world, something which we had never dreamt before," he said.
Adityanath, the chief abbot of Gorakhnath Mutt in Uttar Pradesh, was in Visnagar to attend a religious programme of the Nath sect. He previosuly visited the town in December 2016 following the death of Mahant Gulabnath.
Adityanath's Gujarat counterpart Vijay Rupani said the Somnath Temple would not have been vandalised by foreign invaders had the country not been divided along caste lines.
He said casteism and untouchability kept India divided.
"There is a need to launch a fight against this. I appeal to you seers to take a pledge to save the religion... Modiji is working on to take the country to newer heights," he said.
Adityanath invited the seers present there to attend the 2019 Kumbh Mela, to be held in Uttar Pradesh.
He said Modi's "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas" slogan is a spinoff of the Sanatan Dharma philosophy, which also calls for taking everybody along.
"It is the first time that we will take a pledge and frame a policy that an Indian, whatever community he belongs to, will get shelter. And today, every poor is getting a roof on his head, getting food, electricity etc. Development has reached remote corners," the UP chief minister said.
He hailed Modi for being instrumental in getting UNESCO recognition for Yoga and Kumbh festival.