Who is Alphons Kannanthanam?

Alphons Kannanthanam

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

The three ministers who took oath in English were Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, former diplomat Hardeep Singh Puri and former bureaucrat Alphons Kannanthanam.

He was chosen by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the cabinet rejig today. He is the first Keralite to be inducted in the cabinet of NDA.

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.

Kannanthanam and Puri are now not members of Parliament and are likely to be elected to the Rajya Sabha within the stipulated six months.The promotion of Naqvi, Pradhan, Sitharaman and Goyal, who were all Ministers of State with independent charge, is an endorsement of their good performance, official sources said. Kannanthanam is a retired IAS officer of 1979 batch who joined BJP in 2011.

Ever since news surfaced that there would be a reshuffle and expansion of the Modi ministry, the names that figured prominently as probables from Kerala were actor-turned-Rajya Sabha member Suresh Gopi, state BJP president Kummanem Rajasekheran and former state BJP president V Muraleedharan. He won the assembly elections in 2006 as an independent, backed by the Left, from a Christian-dominated constituency. He was elected an MLA from Kanjirappally which is dominated by Syrian Christians. One of the glittering achievements was when he led the literacy movement in the state and made Kottayam town as the first 100 per cent literate town in the country in 1989.

Alphons, though not a frontline leader in the Kerala BJP, is popular in Delhi where he came to be known as the "demolition man" for knocking down 14,310 illegal buildings when he worked as a Commissioner in the Delhi Development Authority. This got him listed in Time Magazine's list of 100 Young Global Leaders in 1994.

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