Bihar News: Who is Manish Verma, ex-IAS officer seen as Nitish Kumar’s successor in JD-U?

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Manish Verma, a former Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer and close aide of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, joined the Janata Dal (United) formally in Patna on July 9. JD-U working president Sanjay Jha handed Verma the party membership receipt in the presence of state unit president Umesh Kushwaha.

Verma, a 2000-batch Odisha-cadre IAS officer, voluntarily retired from services in 2021, reportedly on the advice of Nitish Kumar. Since then, he has been working as a close aide of the chief minister, who is also the party supremo.

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According to reports, with the Bihar assembly elections 2025 in mind, Verma is likely to get a key post in the party soon. During the party’s national executive meeting held in the national capital last week, Verma was discussed as a potential leader of JD-U and a possible successor to Nitish Kumar.

Son of the soil

Manish Verma, 50, hails from the Nalanda district of Bihar. His father Dr Ashok Verma has been known as a prominent doctor in Biharsharif. Verma had his primary education from a government school in Biharsharif. He also studied at a school in Patna before completing his BTech in Civil Engineering from the IIT, Delhi. Verma has also worked with the Indian Oil Corporation before cracking the UPSC in 2000.

Verma’s first posting was in Kalahandi and then became a Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) in Gunupur, Rayagara in Odisha. He was in Odisha for 12 years before he was sent on deputation to Bihar. 

In Bihar, he has also been district magistrate of Patna and Purnea. He was also posted as Secretary to the Chief Minister from 2016 to 2021. After his deputation in Bihar was over, Verma decided not to return to Odisha and instead took VRS from services in 2021.

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Verma joined as additional adviser to the chief minister after the post was created by Nitish Kumar in the cabinet meeting on February 2, 2022. He has also served as a member of the Bihar State Disaster Management Authority. Verma has resigned from all these posts before joining the JD (U).

Connections with Nitish Kumar

Verma has been actively engaged with the JD (U)’s organisational activities for over a year now. He is said to have played a significant role during the JD(U)’s campaign in the recent Lok Sabha polls

Verma toured all the 16 parliamentary constituencies that the JD-U contested in 2024 Lok Sabha Elections. The party eventually won 12 seats and ended up becoming a major ally in the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre.

Verma’s political ambitions were clear when he took the VRS from IAS. He comes from Kurmi community, the same OBC caste that Nitish Kumar belongs to. Verma’s family is based in Biharsharif in Nalanda district. Nitish Kumar has represented Nalanda in Lok Sabha.

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“For me it is an emotional moment and I will try my best to work for the party. Anybody can get inspired from Nitish Kumarji, I have learnt a lot from him while working with him for almost eight years. Whatever responsibility will be given to me, I will do my best,” Verma said after joining JD-U on Tuesday.

RCP Singh’s replacement?

Verma’s name has been floating around as one of Nitish’s successors since he left the IAS in 2021. But he has never held a party post. Some reports suggest that he may be appointed as JD-U’s national general secretary (organisation).

Before Verma, another bureaucrat picked by Nitish Kumar for a prime position in the party was RCP Singh, who went on to be JD-U’s Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament and Union minister before falling out with the JD-U supremo in 2022.

Singh, a UP cadre IAS officer, joined the BJP in May 2023. He had also been the JD-U’s national general secretary (organisation). Many say Verma is a replacement for RCP Singh in the JD-U.

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