The severe water-logging in Patna that has left thousands affected and an outbreak of dengue have revealed an apparent rift between the partners of the ruling alliance in Bihar. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United and it ally BJP are bickering over who is to blame for the situation in the state capital, where even Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi of the BJP and his family had to be evacuated in an inflatable rubber boat.
Sensing intense public anger over the flood - over 100 have died across Bihar in the past weeks - BJP leaders are out to corner Nitish Kumar, sources said.
"When captain gets the clap, then he should also get the flak for any mismanagement," Union Minister Giriraj Singh said.
Leading the assault group from the BJP is Giriraj Singh, who has been criticising Nitish Kumar every day on social media, where from posting videos in praise of the Chief Minister he has suddenly swung into posting articles critical of the JDU chief. "Nitish Kumar and Sushil Modi are responsible for what has happened in Patna after the heavy rains," Giriraj Singh said on Friday.
Bihar Urban Development Minister Suresh Sharma deflected criticism over the waterlogging and blamed officers for not listening to him. He said it is not him, but the officers who should face action. Mr Sharma holds the department responsible for upkeep of drainage and pump houses, which failed Patna this time.
Sources said the BJP's "strategy" is to pin the Patna waterlogging on officers and keep Nitish Kumar in the line of fire as almost all the civic authorities including the mayor and the Urban Development Minister are from the BJP.
Former BJP MP Syed Shahnawaz Hussain said Nitish Kumar's party should not brush aside Giriraj Singh's criticism.
Sources said JDU leaders are not blind to the BJP's chagrin. Though its top leaders including the Chief Minister and Sushil Kumar Modi are quiet for now, their party colleagues are replying to the BJP in full force.
"Everyone is responsible, but what Giriraj is doing is highly irresponsible and the party high command should take note of it," JDU spokesperson KC Tyagi said.
"Giriraj should remember that there's a natural disaster and not a political calamity and the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) is intact," said Bihar minister from the JDU Neeraj Kumar said.
Jailed leader Lalu Yadav's party Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has broken into the apparent rift between the NDA partners. The RJD has been until now watching the development from a distance.
Two senior RJD leaders, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Manoj Jha, have backed Giriraj Singh's tirade against Nitish Kumar - sparking rumours of a backstage deal between the BJP and the RJD for relief to the jailed leader and his family in corruption cases.
"We agree in-principle with Giriraj that no officer listened to legislators or politicians," Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said.
"It's true that this was not a natural calamity but one caused by indifference and negligence," Manoj Jha said.
The RJD's face in Bihar, Tejashwi Yadav, however, has not visited any of the waterlogged areas. He had been shuttling between Goa for an event, Delhi and Haryana, where his brother-in-law Rao Chiranjeev has filed nomination to contest the state election to be held on October 21.