Modi Cabinet reshuffle: Kerala's Alphons Kannanthanam sworn in Minister of State

Alphons Kannanthanam

"The ministerial berth for Alphons Kannanthanam is an Onam gift for Malayalis from the Modi Government", said BJP State President Kummanam Rajasekharan.

Kannanthanam, a 1979 batch IAS officer, quit his high- profile career and plunged into electoral politics by successfully contesting from Kanjirappally in Kottayam district.

This new post comes at a time exactly an year after he was first named Administrator of the Union territory of Chandigarh but dropped after opposition surfaced from local leaders that with Punjab going to polls, it would be better to have someone else.

All but three ministers took oath in Hindi on Sunday during a swearing in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan in which nine new ministers were inducted and four Ministers of State were elevated to the Cabinet.




Two other new faces are Ashwini Kumar Choubey, a member of the Lok Sabha from Bihar, and Shiv Pratap Shukla from Uttar Pradesh.All the new ministers are from the BJP as its allies were not part of the exercise.Six ministers of the Union Cabinet had put in their papers, days ahead of the reshuffle.

Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said he does not think any single leader in the Kerala BJP was happy about Alphons becoming a minister. BJP sources also told DC that the ploy of BJP national president Amit Shah is to cosy up to the Catholic church through Mr Kannanthanam who hails from Kanjirapally (his former Assembly constituency) which has got a sizable population of Syrian Christians. Perhaps the clean image of bureaucrat turned politician prompted BJP to pick him from Kerala to Modi cabinet. He joined BJP in 2011 and became a member of party's national executive. This got him listed in Time Magazine's list of 100 Young Global Leaders in 1994.

For Delhiites, Alphons Kannanthanam is the "demolition man", who brought down many illegal buildings during his stint as the commissioner of Delhi Development Authority.

Born in a non-electrified Manimala village in Kottayam district to a World War II veteran, he pioneered the literacy movement in India as district collector of Kottayam by making it the first 100 per cent literate town in India in 1989.

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