Patna: It seems politicians in Bihar are losing their spark - to be replaced by the likes of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and a cluth of Bollywood stars. Unlike every year, firecrackers named after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and former chief ministers Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi are missing from the markets this time.
Till last year, fireworks named after them, as also Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi had flooded the markets.
"Firecrackers named after Nitish, Lalu, Rabri...are not available," Salim Ahmad, a firecracker wholesaler in Patna said.
He said this year, the likes of cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Bollywood stars are adorning the cracker covers.
"There are no Lalu bombs, Lalu rockets, Nitish patakas or Rabri phuljharis this year. It is surprising," said Mohammed Naushad, a shopkeeper selling crackers here.
"There is demand for firecrackers named after Katrina Kaif, Kareena Kapoor, Vidya Balan, Shah Rukh Khan, Hirthik Roshan and Dhoni," he said.
"We are selling Kareena hydro bombs, Bipasha Basu anar, Katrina parachute and Shah Rukh Khan rockets this year," said Munna 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 till a few years ago. But that is no more the case," he said.
A few years ago, firecrackers named after then US president George W. Bush, slain Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and tennis sensation Sania Mirza did brisk business.
According to the Bihar Chamber of Commerce, firecrackers worth Rs.400 million are likely to be sold this Diwali.