Even as the results are trickling in, Nitish Kumar's party conceded defeat early as the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) trailed the opposition alliance led by Tejashwi Yadav, NDTV reported.

"We welcome the people's decision. We were not defeated by RJD or Tejashwi Yadav but nation's curse (Covid)," said Janata Dal United spokesperson KC Tyagi to NDTV. "We are trailing only because of Covid. We are paying for past 70 years of deterioration In Bihar, " he said.

"Brand Nitish" is intact, Tyagi claimed, blaming the politician's slide in the election on "Nature's Fury".

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Leads showed the BJP far ahead of Nitish Kumar, with the JDU appearing to drag down the overall tally of the NDA.

Tyagi also apportioned a part of the blame on Chirag Paswan, the 34-year-old politician who, like Nitish Kumar, is an ally of the BJP but fiercely attacked Mr Kumar throughout his campaign, declaring him outdated and a liability, and announcing that it would be his party and the BJP who would form the government in Bihar.

Kumar's political capital has definitely shrunk - though this is the picture of early leads and therefore comes with health warnings. At 69, Kumar was hoping for a historic fourth term as chief minister of Bihar, an aspiration that seems unlikely to be fulfilled.