Breaking his silence for the first time since the mid-day meal tragedy of July 16, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday defended the government’s action saying it responded in the quickest possible time.

‘Blame game’

“Our response time was the quickest. I was receiving updates by the minute. In Chapra the treatment given was the same as in Patna. The doctors there were confident that the children’s condition would improve, but it deteriorated. They worked very hard. It is not appropriate to blame the doctors. In Patna too, two children died. The administration took immediate steps. This is not the case for a blame game,” Mr. Kumar said, addressing his first press conference after the incident.

Asked about his claim of a political conspiracy behind the incident, he said, “Such an incident does not happen due to negligence or as a coincidence. Children were forced to eat the food when they protested. The poison concentration was very high. This is not a commonplace occurrence which can be termed as a coincidence. Beyond this, I will not say anything as it will be construed as me trying to influence the probe,” Mr. Kumar said.

He refuted the allegations that he was silent over the incident.

“I am not the one to remain silent or sit at home. I was inconvenienced to a physical condition [he had hurt his leg]. One thing that surprises and confounds me greatly is who would have a bone to pick with children? This is one of the saddest, most heartrending incidents of my public life,” he said.