New Delhi: Showering praise on Yogi Adityanath for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said vast preparations made by the Uttar Pradesh chief minister saved at least 85,000 lives, something that was unthinkable before 2017.

Modi, who launched the "Atma nirbhar Uttar Pradesh Rozgar Abhiyan" seeking to promote local entrepreneurship with industrial associations to provide employment, said Adityanath managed to turn the epidemic into an opportunity which the governments prior to 2017 would have avoided.

The Prime Minister referred to the pre-2017 period when the state was mostly ruled by non-BJP governments, saying, "Whichever government or system was in place, the circumstances were such that they would have avoided the challenge but the Adityanath government took it seriously and worked on a war footing."

He referred to a stampede in Allahabad during the Kumbh Mela, when a former prime minister who was also an MP from the city was in power, saying the then PM made all efforts to brush the "deaths of hundreds of thousands" pilgrims under the carpet.

Modi said UP's population of 24 crore is same as that of four European countries put together but, in UP the death toll is 600 due to coronavirus and lauded the efforts of Adityanath in tackling the pandemic.

"UP's achievement is massive. The population of 24 crore is bigger than that of many countries. The population of England, France, Italy and Spain put together comes to 24 crore but they saw 1.30 lakh deaths due to coronavirus," he said, adding that these four countries lost more lives than UP even though they are developed nations and have no dearth of facilities.

Referring to the scenario in the United States, he said, "You must have seen reports of America. They have everything but even then, 1.25 lakh lives have been lost till now."

"If Yogiji and his team had not made proper preparations, today 85,000 people would have lost their lives if we compare with other countries. We can say that the hard work done by the UP government saved so many lives," he said.

Modi, who interacted with villagers of six districts through common services centres and krishi vigyan kendras , said this achievement has been managed when 30 to 35 lakh labourers have returned to the state by hundreds of shramik trains.

Speaking about the works done by the Adityanath government, he said the chief minister's dedication was evident in the fact that he opted to miss his father's last rites.

Modi said that he always talked about the double engine for development which was working for Uttar Pradesh and hoped that other states would also bring in schemes like UP.

He stressed that he is concerned about the state as a citizen and also because he is an MP from here.

"Whoever shows courage in crisis gets success. What you have done is an example for the world," he said, adding that Uttar Pradesh has a great role in making the country self-reliant.

He also hailed the work done by the UP government in the past three years and reminded that the fight against coronavirus was on and cited three steps of social distancing, covering face with a mask and sanitation.

The "Atma nirbhar Uttar Pradesh Rozgar Abhiyan" scheme aims to generate 1. 25 crore jobs in 31 districts. Exuding confidence of providing jobs to all migrant workers of Uttar Pradesh, Adityanath said the state has enough potential to create employment opportunities for all of them.

"Uttar Pradesh has enough possibilities for creating employment for migrant workers who have returned to the state. I can assure that we will succeed in employing all of them," said Adityanath while launching the scheme through video conference.