Lalu bombs, Nitish bombs… It’s Diwali in Bihar!

Patna, Nov 4 (IANS) With Diwali only a day away, a Bihar locked in assembly elections is seeing a sharp surge in the sale of Lalu bombs and Nitish time bombs.

But the firecrackers on sale are also named after two other leading politicians: former chief minister Rabri Devi, who is Lalu Prasad’s wife, and Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan.

With Chief Minister Nitish Kumar enjoying high popularity ratings, the Nitish time bomb is doing great business. And so are Nitish bullet, Lalu bomb and Lalu special bomb.

‘All items named after Nitish and Lalu are selling briskly,’ said Naushad Hussain, a shopkeeper at the wholesale market in Old Patna.

Other firecrackers doing brisk business are Rabri ‘charkha’, Rabri sparklers and Ram Vilas sparklers. There is also the Sushil Charkhi, which takes its name after Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi.

Another shopkeeper, Sanjay Kumar, told IANS that crackers named after Nitish and Lalu were the first choice of buyers, even more popular than those bearing the names of film stars and cricket players.

‘Party activists are buying them in large numbers,’ he said.

Yet another shopkeeper, Mohd Pappu Khan, said: ‘It is true that crackers named after politicians have been selling for years during Diwali in Bihar but this time the demand is high thanks to the elections.’

Bihar is now engaged in electing a new legislature.

‘Lalu bombs are giving a tough time to Nitish Time bombs in Patna and other towns,’ said Mukhtar Ahmad, a trader selling crackers.

Firecrackers bearing the names of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and MP Rahul Gandhi are new to Bihar.

Recalling the years when firecrackers with Lalu and Rabri brand outsold all others, Ahmad said: ‘Their high sales were the accepted index of their popularity. Now the Nitish brand is giving a tough competition.’

Lalu loyalists say the continuing sale of Lalu-Rabri firecrackers is a clear indication that they — Lalu Prasad in particular — remain hugely popular in Bihar although they were voted out five years ago.

‘Children, mostly kids, love to buy Lalu bombs rather than Nitish bombs,’ said one shopkeeper.

A few years ago, firecrackers named after then US president George W. Bush and Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden did brisk business. Even those sporting the names of cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni and tennis player Sania Mirza were in high demand till last year.

Pashupati Nath Pandey, a former general secretary of the Bihar Chamber of Commerce, said firecrackers worth Rs.400 million were likely to be sold ahead of Diwali this year in Bihar.

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