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

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By Team Asianet Newsable | 12:09 PM September 03, 2017
Alphons Kannanthanam, along with nine others, has sworn in as the minister of Narendra Modi cabinet at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday morning. He is the first Keralite to be inducted in the cabinet of NDA. This is perhaps the last major cabinet rejig of NDA government ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Kannanthanam said that he is surprised to get a new position and was not expecting this. He also said that despite portfolio, he would serve as Kerala’s voice at Centre. He took oath as the minister of state.

Almost half a dozen Union Ministers were asked to quit to make headroom for a massive reshuffle of the Council of Ministers during a meeting with BJP chief Amit Shah on Thursday.

Former IAS officer Alphons Kannanthanam from Kerala was a surprising pick while earlier reports suggested the names of Suresh Gopi MP and Kummanam Rajasekharan. The move to induce Kannanthanam in the cabinet is seen as part of BJP’s efforts to expand its base in the state. Perhaps the clean image of bureaucrat turned politician prompted BJP to pick him from Kerala to Modi cabinet.

Kannanthanam, a practising advocate at Kerala High Court and Supreme Court, was an IAS officer from the 1979 batch, Kerala cadre.

He resigned from Indian Administrative Service to contest in 2006 Kerala Assembly elections. He got elected as an independent MLA from Kanjirappally constituency with the support of CPM-led LDF. He joined BJP in 2011 and became a member of party’s national executive.

There are speculations that the BJP is aiming to bring Catholic Church closer to NDA alliance by selecting Kannanthanam, who is not representing either Houses of Parliament at present. He was elected an MLA from Kanjirappally which is dominated by Syrian Christians. The MLA will have to be brought into the Rajya Sabha where two seats are vacant after Venkaiah Naidu was elected as Vice-President and Manohar Parrikar has shifted to Goa.

He pioneered the literacy movement in India by making Kottayam, his native district, the first 100% literate town in 1989 while serving as the District Collector.

He was included in Time Magazine’s list of 100 Yough Global Leaders in 1994. Kannanthanam came to be known as the Demolition Man after he demolished 14,310 illegal buildings on government land in Delhi, and reclaimed land worth more than ?10,000 crore, while he was serving as the Commissioner of Delhi Development Authority.