Ex-IAS officer Manish Verma set to become Nitish Kumar’s successor?

Verma, who belongs to CM’s caste and region, joined the JDU

JD(U) Working President Sanjay Kumar Jha and state President Umesh Kushwaha join hands with senior IAS Manish Verma as he joins the party, in Patna | PTI JD(U) Working President Sanjay Kumar Jha and state President Umesh Kushwaha join hands with senior IAS Manish Verma as he joins the party, in Patna | PTI

Former IAS officer, Manish Verma, who left services to work with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar joined the Janata Dal United sparking off the buzz that he is likely to play a bigger role in the party affairs. Verma belongs to the chief minister’s caste and region.

The proximity Verma enjoyed while working with Nitish is likely to put him as a frontline leader in the party. Will he be the successor to Nitis? The assembly elections due in the state next year may provide a clue.

The regional parties centred around a single leader work on personality cult and often face problem while picking up the next in line leaders. The last Lok Sabha polls brought various examples where the likely successors of the regional leaders played an active role. But they did not have a successful run. 

BSP superemo Mayawati had anointed her nephew Akash Anand as her successor in the party. But midway through the polls, she removed him, which adversely impacted her party. Recently, Mayawato reappointed Anand as her successor.

In Odisha, chief minister Naveen Patnaik had handed over the responsibility of election management to his close aide, former IAS officer, V.K. Pandian. Pandian resigned from the services to join the BJD and was wisely believed to be Patnaik’s successor. As BJD lost polls, Pandian went into self-imposed political exile. 

In Punjab, incendiary war has broken out within the Akali leaders as to who would lead the party. A section of leaders want to replace Sukhbir Singh Badal.

In case of Bihar, Nitish would need to groom his successor or give a hint to the people who would hold party’s reigns in the years to come. The 73-year-old leader has been Bihar CM for 18 years.

What may work in Verms’s favour is that he belongs to the OBC, Kurmi caste, same as that of Nitish. He also hails from Nalanda district in Bihar. 

A IITian, Kumar joined IAS in 2000 and was allotted Odisha cadre. He came to Bihar on deputation in 2012.  He served as as Secretary to the Chief Minister from 2016 to 2021, before quitting the services. Nitish then appointed him as his additional adviser.

Nitish is known to rely on handpicked bureaucrats to run the administration. This was often a reason for his criticism. Kumar has survived the rough and tumble of the state politics as he has been sworn in as the CM for the ninth times after changing sides multiple times. The Lok Sabha polls have given him a big breather as the JDU won 12 seats. The party is hopeful of contesting the next elections under his stewardship. 

JDU had appointed Sanjay Jha as party’s working president. Now, Verma has been inducted into the party thus signalling that the next line of leadership is being prepared in the party.

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