Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday sought to downplay his party Janata Dal (United)’s defeat in the Maharajganj by-election, saying the seat belonged to the Rashtriya Janata Dal. He also asserted that the JD(U)-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance was intact.

Prabhunath Singh of the RJD won the Maharajganj seat, beating the JD(U) candidate and Mr. Kumar’s old friend Prashant Kumar Shahi by a huge margin of 1.37 lakh votes.

“It is not JD(U)’s defeat. It was never our seat. It was anyway an RJD seat. In fact, the JD(U) has increased its vote share from the last Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha polls,” Mr. Kumar said.

Referring to RJD chief Lalu Prasad, Mr. Kumar said, “Those who want to gloat can do so. We have been winning consistently, but we are not pompous.”

Dispelling speculation that Mr. Shahi did not get full support of the BJP, Mr. Kumar said, “Our alliance is intact. We worked hard for this election. All the workers of the National Democratic Alliance put their heart into campaigning.”

However, BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy termed the Maharajganj loss “a shock” and “big cause for concern” to the NDA.

“It is a big cause for concern to the BJP. We are very worried in Bihar. In the light of the coming Lok Sabha polls, this defeat is not good for us. I hope the NDA will hold a meeting to review what went wrong. It’s a subject of research why Bihar’s good governance could not translate into votes,” Mr. Rudy said at a press conference here.