New Delhi: On Sunday, Alphons Kannanthanam is likely to be among the nine new ministers to be sworn into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet.
A former IAS officer from the 1979 batch, Kerala cadre, Kannanthanam is a practicing advocate.
With this appointment, Kannanthanam will complete a journey across the political spectrum that began when he got elected as an independent MLA from Kanjirappally constituency in Kerala with support from the CPI (M)-led LDF in 2006.
He joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2011 and is a member of the BJP national executive.
With Kannanthanam’s induction, the government will also finally get some representation from Kerala. He is the first Malayali to be inducted in the cabinet of the NDA.
Before him, the only minister from Kerala in an NDA government was O Rajagopal who was appointed as Minister of State for Railways in the Atal Behari Vajpayee government. He was nominated to Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh.
Sources told News18 that Kannanthanam selection is part of BJP chief Amit Shah’s plans to bring Catholic Church in Kerala closer to the National Democratic Alliance. Shah has been making overtures to the Church for support. It is significant that Kanjirappally, from where Kannanthanam was elected as a MLA, is dominated by Syrian Christians.
This would be the second such attempt by the BJP to reach out to the Church after Manohar Parrikar was successfully appealed to them for support for the assembly elections in Goa. It could also be a part of the party’s strategy to broad base its campaign on love Jihad.
Kannanthanam is not a member of either House of the Parliament at present. He will have to be brought into the Rajya Sabha where there are two seats vacant after Parrikar shifted to Goa and Venkaiah Naidu was elected as Vice-President.
Born on Kottayam district of Kerala, Kannanthanam made a name for himself as an IAS officer by first making Kottayam the first 100% literate town in 1989 when he was serving as the district collector there. He also earned the moniker Delhi’s Demolition Man after demolished 15,000 illegal buildings on government land while he was the Commissioner of the Delhi Development Authority.