Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot on Saturday said his government's response to the infant deaths in Kota could have been more sensitive.
Criticising the Congress government over the deaths of 107 children in the state-run JK Lon Hospital, Pilot said it was not a small incident and also stressed that accountability for the entire episode should be fixed.
“As many as 107 children have died in the hospital. This is very painful. Our response to the entire matter was not satisfactory to some extent. The response could have been more sensitive and we should have been more compassionate,” he told reporters.
Pilot, who is also Congress' state party chief, had earlier visited some of the families who lost their children and also went to the hospital.
“The underprivileged people are dependent on these hospitals. They have lost their children and do not accept the argument about how many deaths occurred earlier and how many have died now,” the deputy chief minister said.
“We have to fix accountability. After 13 months of being in government, it may not serve any purpose to keep pointing towards the previous government. That government was voted out and we were voted in. We have to face responsibility and consequences. People expect us to deliver,” he said.
When asked how the Congress high command was looking at the matter, Pilot said Congress president Sonia Gandhi was very concerned about it.
“She is very concerned. Not just her, but the state and the entire country is concerned. It is not a small incident but a heart-wrenching matter. The entire country has shaken up,” the 42-year-old said.
When asked about Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's statement on Friday that the number of deaths of children has reduced in Congress rule, Pilot said, “Whatever I am saying, I am saying with full responsibility.”
On Friday, Gehlot had claimed in Jodhpur that deaths of infants happened even during the BJP's tenure but their number had reduced under the Congress rule.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Saturday met party interim chief Sonia Gandhi over the death of 106 children in Rajasthan's Kota among other issues.
Gehlot had said the deaths should not be politicised and invited Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to visit the hospital and see the "best" facilities offered there.
"The government is sensitive to the death of sick infants in JK Lon Hospital in Kota. There should no politics over the issue. Infant mortality at this hospital is steadily decreasing. We will try to reduce it further. It is our top priority that mothers and children remain in good health," he tweeted in Hindi on Thursday.
The NHRC has issued a notice to the Rajasthan government asking it to submit a detailed report within four weeks in the matter, including the steps being taken to address the issue.
(With PTI inputs)