Brand Lalu-Rabri fail to glow this festival of lights

October 27th, 2008 - 2:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiPatna, Oct 27 (IANS) The Lalu-Rabri brand seems to have lost its spark this Diwali. Firecrackers named after the railways minister and his wife, a former chief minister of Bihar, were a staple but have gone missing this year. It might be scant comfort for the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief, but there isn’t too much trace of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar or Congress president Sonia Gandhi either in the run-up to the festival of lights.

“There are no Lalu bombs, Lalu engine, Lalu rocket, Nitish pataka or Rabri phuljhari this year. It is surprising,” said Mohammed Rizwan Ahmad, a shopkeeper selling crackers and other incendiary delights this festive season.

“There is demand for the Lalu-Rabri and Nitish brands of firecrackers, but we have no such item,” added Manoj Singh, another shopkeeper selling crackers.

“We are selling hot girl and item girl brand firecrackers,” said Arvind Kumar, a wholesale agent of firecrackers.

He recalled the years when the Lalu-Rabri brand outsold all others. “The high sales of the Lalu-Rabri crackers were the accepted index of their popularity among the people.”

A few years ago, firecrackers named after US President George W. Bush and Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden did brisk business. Last year, the honours went to star cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni and tennis sensation Sania Mirza.

Pashupati Nath Pandey, general secretary of the Bihar Chamber of Commerce, said firecrackers worth Rs.300 million are likely to be sold ahead of Diwali this year.

Like elsewhere, Diwali is likely to be low key in Bihar. The worst floods in the last 50 years have been a dampener as have the economic blues.

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