Covid and its disastrous economic consequences have left Nitish Kumar and his party gasping for breath, not 31-year-old Tejashwi Yadav, asserted KC Tyagi, a spokesperson of the Janata Dal United or JDU, as he appeared to concede defeat just a little before 10 am in Patna.
"Brand Nitish" is intact, Mr Tyagi claimed, blaming the politician's slide in the election on "Nature's Fury".
Mr 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who, like Nitish Kumar, is an ally of the BJP but fiercely attacked Mr Kumar throughout his campaign, declaring him outdated and a liability, and announcing that it would be his party and the BJP who would form the government in Bihar.
Mr Kumar's political capital has definitely shrunk - though this is the picture of early leads and therefore comes with health warnings. At 69, Mr Kumar was hoping for a historic fourth term as Chief Minister of Bihar, an aspiration that seems unlikely to be fulfilled.
"Chirag Paswan should have been denounced and controlled from the start," Mr Tyagi said, making it clear that as a partner, the BJP has coloured outside the lines by refusing to rein in Mr Paswan who appears to have succeeded in eating into Mr Kumar's votes.
Mr Paswan, who made theatrical pronouncements of his dedication to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is believed to have been encouraged privately by the BJP to take on Mr Kumar with the intention of reducing the latter, for the first time, to the junior partner in the alliance with the BJP.