Patna: With the Assembly elections in Bihar slated to be held later this year, there appears to be no consensus on who will lead the grand alliance as the task to resolve the leadership issue is proving to be a hard nut to crack for the opposition leaders.
Grand Alliance leaders held a meeting here on Friday. However, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress were conspicuously absent from the meeting, indicating that all is not well in the grand alliance.
The closed-door meeting was attended by Upendra Kushwaha of Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), Mukesh Sahni of Vikas Insaan Party (VIP), Jitan Ram Manjhi of Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM) and Sharad Yadav of Loktantrik Janata Dal.
After the meeting, the leaders shied away from speaking to the media.
Former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi said: “We will talk after February 18.” On being asked if the leadership issue was discussed, he said: “Nothing has been discussed yet.”
Sources, however, said that the leaders discussed the prospect of including the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Alliance.
As per the sources, the three leaders of the alliance — Manjhi, Kushwaha and Sahani have put forward the name of Sharad Yadav as the leader of the alliance. But, the RJD, which has declared Tejashwi Yadav as the chief minister’s face, has made it clear that “Sharad Yadav is a national leader”.
RJD spokesperson Mrityunjay Tiwari said that Sharad Yadav is a senior national leader, but RJD is the dominant political force in Bihar.
Sending a subtle message to the leaders of the grand alliance, Tiwari said the RJD had announced the name of Tejashwi Yadav for the leadership as well as for the chief ministerial face.
Sources say that this statement, and the absence of the RJD as well as the Congress from the meeting clearly indicates rift in the Grand Alliance over the selection of the chief ministerial face.
According to sources, though the leaders of all the parties of the grand alliance may be claiming to be together, but the RJD and the Congress seem to be separately making their own preparations for the elections.
For the alliance, Lalu Prasad has the most important role to play. Sources said Sharad Yadav could meet him in Ranchi on Saturday. However, Yadav has not made any comment on this.
Choose wisely – go organic this Holi
With Holi -the festival of colours coming up — everyone is busy buying colours, ‘pichkaris’, and balloons but with increasing environment pollution and severe allergic reactions to synthetic colours, there is a growing awareness among people to opt for organic variants.
“In an approximately Rs 4,500-crore unorganised Holi colour market, the share of the organic variety is miniscule, but growing,” said Madhumita Puri, Founder and Executive Director of Avacayam Naturals, a Delhi-based manufacturer of organic colours.
The adverse effects of synthetic colours was observed in a study titled ‘The Holi Dermatoses’, published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology.
It found a spate in skin diseases following the spring festival in India.
In the study conducted on 42 patients in Kolkata, 11 patients suffered due to activities related to preparation of colors and 12 reported aggravation of pre-existing dermatoses.
Nearly 60 per cent patients reported itching, while others reported to have suffered from a burning sensation, scaling, redness and watering of the eyes, as per the study.
Treading on a eco-friendly and skin-friendly path, Avacayam Naturals employed differently-abled persons to make organic colours by using waste and used flowers and leaves.
This solves three purposes at one go – generates employment for the disabled, manufactures harmless eco-friendly colours, and there is optimal usage of waste flowers.
Speaking to IANS, Puri said: “For making the colours, we collect used flowers — roses, marigolds, and others — and leaves from temples, weddings, and hotels.”
Avacayam Naturals, one of the programs that Puri started under her “Trash to Cash” scheme, makes four colours: Pink from roses, yellow from yellow marigolds, orange from orange marigolds, and green from leaves.
On being asked if the colours are harmless, she said: “Rather than damaging the environment, they are beneficial as each packet of colour is made from waste flowers which otherwise would dirty the place.”
How are the colours made?
“After the flowers are collected, the workers sort them in different baskets according to their colour. Then, the petals and seed pods are separated and cut. These are then spread out to dry in a well ventilated space for all the moisture to evaporate.
“After that, they are ground and processed — without adding any chemicals — to be made into colours for people to enjoy,” Puri said, adding that the process of collection, drying, and grinding continues throughout the year but it is only before festivals that they process them into the final product.
“In a year, we manufacture around 20 tonne of pure organic colour, some of which is sold to Walmart India. One kilo of colour is sold between Rs 600 and Rs 1,000.”
When asked about the expiry date of these colours, Puri said: “The product is a dry one and completely natural. We have been testing them since five years now and have not found any deterioration in the quality, fungal infestations, or weevils. So there is no ‘expiry date’ to them.”
Another such manufacturer is Jaipur-based Red Earth which makes colours “exclusively from edible materials and scent them with pure, traditional attars”.
Speaking to IANS, Himanshu Verma, Director-Owner of Red Earth, said: “Every 2-3 years, we change our colour palette… this year we have four colours — Sunahra Dhamaal, Shvet Abeer, Neem Sanrachna, and Gulabi Nagariya — that are inspired by local materials.”
“The colours are curated on the basis of availability of local materials. We use items like camphor, neem, mehendi, multani-mitti, geru powder, arrowroot, flour, and others,” Verma said, adding that 50-60 per cent materials used are edible so that even if someone ingests them by mistake, they will not be as harmful.