Stirring up a controversy, Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi has said that hoarding and black marketing of goods by small traders will not be treated as a crime and asked them not to worry about such activities.
"I am aware that small traders indulge in hoarding and black marketing of goods to make profit in order to sustain their families and educate their children," he said yesterday at a function organised by Bihar State Foodgrain Businessmen's Association.
"You please don't worry about your activities as the state government will not punish you for hoarding and black marketing on small scale," Manjhi said even as the Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh looked bemused at the Chief Minister's utterances.
Virtually defending hoarding and black marketing by petty traders, the Chief Minister said that he did not mind such activities as the traders were doing it for a noble cause - to sustain their families and educate their children.
Continuing in the same vein, he said that hoarding and black marketing by the small traders have had no impact on demand and supply of goods in market as the quantity of goods being hoarded by the traders was insignificant in volume.
The Chief Minister's off-the-cuff remarks has come at the time when the Centre has asked the state governments to crack down on hoarders and black marketeers to rein in price rise and inflation in the country.
Manjhi has been in the news for many of his controversial remarks, which have embarrassed his party -JD(U) and his predecessor Nitish Kumar, who had handpicked him as his successor soon after the ruling party fared miserably in the general elections held this year.