Politicians lose their sparkle, Dhoni shines this Diwali (Lead)

October 27th, 2008 - 6:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiPatna/Ranchi, 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 to give space to “item girl brand firecrackers” and star cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni. 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 in Bihar.

“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 in Patna.

“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.”

In Ranchi, the field has been left clear for Dhoni with not just firecrackers but also sweets named after the cricketer flying off the shelves. The Dhoni brand has emerged top, competing with filmstars like Vidya Balan, Kareena Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai and, of course, Lalu Prasad.

“Dhoni firecrackers have captured more than half the market,” said Praveen Mangal, a shopkeeper in the Jharkhand capital.

The Dhoni range starts at Rs.50 and goes up to Rs.700.

“Dhoni lies in the heart of each and every person in Jharkhand,” said Kawaljeet Singh, another seller.

Dhoni fans are enthusiastic. “I have purchased Rs.1,800 worth of Dhoni crackers. Now I will buy Dhoni brand sweets. Dhoni has made the people of Jharkhand proud and it is our duty to make his brand successful,” said Rajesh Sen, a student of St Xavier’s College from where Dhoni is doing his graduation.

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