Narendra Modi’s honeymoon is over. The prime minister’s upbeat message of economic development swept most Indian states in May 2014, including almost 80% of the seats in the third-largest, Bihar. But on Sunday the “grand alliance”, led by an odd couple of local heavyweights, scored 178 seats in elections to the state assembly, against 59 for Mr Modi’s local National Democratic Alliance coalition. Mr Modi staked his prestige on the campaign and fought dirty; advertisements highlighting the sanctity of the cow looked like a ploy to turn Hindu voters against the Muslim minority. Defeat now makes it marginally harder for him to pass stalled economic reforms through the upper house of parliament in Delhi. It could also spark a bust-up in his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Mr Modi will particularly appreciate the adoring crowds of expatriate Indians who will cheer him at Wembley stadium in London on November 13th.