The Janata Dal (United) on Saturday criticised Union minister Giriraj Singh after he said that the party’s chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had handled the floods in the state inefficiently, Hindustan Times reported. Singh had on Friday said that “a leader should accept praise as well as blame”, holding Kumar and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi responsible for the water-logging in several districts of the state.

“He [Giriraj Singh] is not even comparable to a speck of dust on Nitish Kumar’s feet,” PTI quoted Janata Dal (United) spokesperson Sanjay Singh as saying. “One does not become a leader just by chanting the name of Mahadev [the deity Shiva] every now and then.” The spokesperson was hinting at the Union minister’s habit of using the deity’s name during speeches.

The Union minister had this week said that the National Democratic Alliance should apologise to Patna residents. The state’s capital Patna, one of the worst-hit districts, has been inundated for almost over a week now.

Rajiv Ranjan Prasad, another Janata Dal (United) spokesperson, said the party had been ruling the state in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party and the charge for urban development was with the saffron party. The state’s urban development minister is BJP leader Suresh Sharma.

“The Mayor of Patna belongs to the BJP and so do the MPs representing the two Lok Sabha constituencies that cover the district,” Prasad said. “All the Assembly segments in the city have been BJP strongholds since the 1990s.”

JD(U) National General Secretary and Chief Spokesperson KC Tyagi said that Singh had become a “habitual offender”. “He is causing more damage to our alliance than Tejashwi Yadav [Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly] could be capable of.”

Tyagi also said that Singh had been chided in the past by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for his comments. He wondered why the BJP was unable to control the Union minister.

Rashtriya Janata Dal National Spokesperson Manoj Jha said that this was a rare occasion when the two alliance partners were on the same page. “He is perfectly right in blaming the NDA government in Bihar for the Patna disaster,” he said.

However, BJP MP Ram Kripal Yadav criticised the state government and claimed that the bureaucracy was out of the control. “Areas of my Patliputra Lok Sabha constituency are water-logged but when I try to contact officials they do not show the courtesy of even picking up the phone,” he said.

Meanwhile, BJP state spokesperson Nikhil Anand said that leaders should not go to the media over affairs of the state. “Agreed that some leaders are under pressure to address public grievances during floods,” he said. “But the chief minister and the deputy chief minister are working tirelessly. Top leaders of the NDA constituents share excellent rapport and it is a united force, which will wipe out the Grand Alliance in the 2020 Assembly polls.”

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