A war of words has broken out between BJP and Janata Dal United leaders in Bihar after floods killed more than 70 people across the state and left large parts of the capital Patna submerged, with water levels failing to recede even four days after the rain stopped; residents have described the situation as a "living hell" with malfunctioning water pumps hampering drainage operations and carcasses of dogs and pigs floating around the city sparking fears of a disease outbreak.
The latest salvo in the blame game was fired by BJP leader and Union Minister Giriraj Singh, a long-time critic of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who held both Mr Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who is from his own party, responsible for the water-logging.
Giriraj Singh's comment comes after Mr Kumar, on Wednesday, said drainage operations in Patna by the BJP-controlled Urban Development Ministry were "far from satisfactory" and that he would personally monitor the situation.
The Chief Minister, whose leadership of the fragile BJP-JDU alliance in the state has come under pressure with Assembly elections expected next year, also hit out at critics, accusing them of "doing publicity and propaganda".
"I am dedicated to janhit (public welfare) and not to publicity. I don't believe in doing publicity and propaganda. Those who don't work only do publicity," he said.
JDU leaders have hit back by reminding their alliance partners that they, in fact, control key administrative and planning posts for the state and Patna, such as the Mayor's office and the Urban Development and Health Ministries.
JDU leader and Industries Minister Shyam Razak accused BJP leaders of grandstanding in front of potential voters with one eye on next year's polls.
Giriraj Singh, who previously held a position in Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's cabinet, earlier said the state was not sufficiently prepared for the floods and accused it of corruption in flood relief.
"The government issued an alert asking the people to be on guard. But was it on guard itself? Had it been so, people would not have been forced to suffer misery," Giriraj Singh said on Wednesday.
He was supported by Bihar BJP President Sanjay Jaiswal, who accused Mr Kumar's government of "administrative negligence" in a Facebook post, according to news agency PTI. Another BJP leader, Minister of State Ashwini Choubey, was similarly critical.
The Chief Minister, who had to face a swarm of angry residents in Patna on Tuesday, earlier drew a parallel to the floods in Mumbai, for which he was criticised by junior BJP spokesman Nikhil Anand, who reminded Mr Kumar that flood waters in Mumbai receded quickly.
Bihar is expected to hold Assembly elections next year and the floods, which Nitish Kumar described as a "natural calamity", have provided BJP leaders looking for a change of leadership in the state with early campaign ammunition.
Mr Kumar, who has come under pressure from BJP leaders looking for a change of leadership in the state, said last month that the NDA would secure more than 206 seats it won in 2010 polls, despite those "trying to do internal sabotage".
According to the government, the floods have hit 959 villages across 15 districts. Around 21.45 lakh people have been affected. 45 relief camps and 324 community kitchens have been set up and more than 1,000 boats have been deployed.
In addition to flooded streets and houses, carcasses of dogs and pigs floating across the city have given rise to health concerns. Civic officials have begun removing these but their progress is slow.
With input from PTI
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