India, Oct. 25 -- From being widely seen as a straightforward contest, where the victory of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the return of Nitish Kumar as chief minister (CM) were all but certain, the Bihar election has become a far more complex, and an open contest. This is because of a range of factors - the diminished popularity of the CM, a churn in the existing social equations, uncertainty about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the possible emergence of a younger leader, and possible rifts within the ruling alliance.

Any prediction would be unwise, but based on the available information, here is what we know. One, voters are angry with Kumar. After 15 years in power, with a nine- month break in 2014-15, there is a se...