Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s politics have suffered a blow as the impoverished state of Bihar gave a decisive verdict against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) campaign to pit Hindus against Muslims over beef eating. Out of the 243-member state assembly of Bihar, 178 seats went to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s grand alliance, demolishing virtually all poll predictions. However, before we read too much into this, one must keep in mind that Bihar is just 1 out of the 30 states in India and Mr. Modi remains very popular. There is a larger picture in play here.

What this verdict will do is make it harder for his government to move ahead with its economic agenda. Promises of rapid development have made him India’s most popular national leader in decades. It also sets the stage for disputing with an emboldened opposition that will likely further delay economic policy-making and hurt Mr. Modi’s efforts to take control of Parliament’s Upper House and clear roadblocks to his agenda.

A national debate on intolerance was touched off by the September killing of a Muslim man by a Hindu mob on the suspicion that he had slaughtered a cow. Mr. Modi, who called the incident “unfortunate,” was criticized for not condemning the killing in stronger terms. The party faces another major election in 2017 in India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh, one of India’s most religiously volatile that will definitely be a deciding factor for the future of Modi’s political career. This defeat may signal that such politics is being rejected by India.

Yet much of the vote bank of the BJP is still intact, Bihar’s politics may not be reflected in other states. However, one thing is clear; Modi magic is not going to be enough on its own win them seats in State elections as well where local social and cultural issues matter.