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Will Manish Verma Be Nitish Kumar’s Political Successor?

Manish Verma is a 2000-batch IAS officer of the Odisha cadre. He is one of many civil servants invited by the Bihar government to work in the state due to a shortage of civil servants. Verma came to Bihar in 2012 on a five-year interstate deputation and quickly became a favorite of Nitish Kumar.

Reported By Umesh Kumar Ray |
Published On :

For almost two years, former bureaucrat Manish Kumar Verma has served as an additional advisor to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. On Tuesday, he officially joined the Janata Dal United (JDU). His political activities became evident during the Lok Sabha elections when he frequently participated in party events.

After officially joining the party, Verma praised Nitish Kumar as a “great leader,” stating, “When people look back in the future, they will see how far he has taken Bihar.” He added that he was inspired by Kumar’s personality and that true socialism lives on within the JDU.

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Who is Manish Kumar Verma?

Manish Verma is a 2000-batch IAS officer of the Odisha cadre. He is one of many civil servants invited by the Bihar government to work in the state due to a shortage of civil servants. Verma came to Bihar in 2012 on a five-year interstate deputation and quickly became a favorite of Nitish Kumar.

Although Verma cited his father’s illness as the reason for moving to Bihar, sources suggest that his proximity to Nitish Kumar was due to several factors, including his caste and hometown. Fifty-year-old Verma hails from Bihar Sharif in Nalanda, Nitish Kumar’s home district, and belongs to the same Kurmi caste. He studied in Patna before earning a B.Tech from IIT Delhi.

Upon his deputation to Bihar, Verma served in the state’s power companies and later became the director of the Department of Social Welfare. In January 2013, he was appointed DM of Purnia. During the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he was accused of partiality, and the BJP complained to the Election Commission, leading to his transfer to the North Bihar Power Distribution Company Limited. However, after the elections, he was sent back to Purnia, and shortly after, appointed DM of Patna.

Verma’s tenure as DM of Patna saw a tragic stampede during a Dussehra event in October 2014, resulting in 33 deaths. Allegations surfaced that he was celebrating his son’s birthday at a renowned hotel instead of managing the crowd. The government faced immense pressure, leading to his removal from the post.

Despite these challenges, Verma’s deputation was extended multiple times, serving as Nitish Kumar’s secretary from 2017 to 2021. He took voluntary retirement in 2021, and in February 2022, he was appointed as an additional advisor to the Chief Minister, a position created specifically for him.

Active Political Role

While maintaining a low profile over the years, Verma became more publicly visible during the Lok Sabha elections, actively participating in public forums and increasing his social media presence. It is believed that Verma played a significant role in JD(U)’s strategies for the Lok Sabha elections and may have a larger role in the upcoming assembly elections.

Previous Attempts at Finding a Successor

Nitish Kumar has made two previous attempts to find a political successor, both unsuccessful. In 2010, he brought former bureaucrat RCP Singh into the party. Singh, also from Nalanda and the Kurmi caste, was seen as Kumar’s second-in-command and served as a Rajya Sabha MP and Union Minister. However, Singh grew close to the BJP, leading to his gradual marginalization within the JD(U) and eventual defection to the BJP.

The second attempt was in 2018 when election strategist Prashant Kishor joined the JD(U). Nitish Kumar had stated, “He is the future of the party.” However, Kishor’s stance on the Citizenship Amendment Act led to his ouster from the party in 2020.

Analysts’ Views

Political analyst Mahendra Suman believes that establishing a successor in parties like the JD(U) is challenging. “For family-centric parties, finding a successor is easier as family members carry forward the legacy. In ideology-based parties, multiple leaders develop simultaneously, so there is no succession crisis. But in a leader-centric party like JD(U), where one leader is supreme, replacing that persona is difficult. Hence, JD(U) faces a succession crisis,” he said.

Suman added, “Nitish Kumar should have looked for a successor much earlier; now it might be too late.”

Verma’s potential as Nitish Kumar’s successor remains uncertain, with the future revealing whether he can fill Kumar’s shoes and gain the acceptance of JD(U)’s diverse core supporters.

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Umesh Kumar Ray started journalism from Kolkata and later came to Patna via Delhi. He received a fellowship from National Foundation for India in 2019 to study the effects of climate change in the Sundarbans. He has bylines in Down To Earth, Newslaundry, The Wire, The Quint, Caravan, Newsclick, Outlook Magazine, Gaon Connection, Madhyamam, BOOMLive, India Spend, EPW etc.

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