9 new ministers join Modi govt; 4 elevated as Cabinet Mins

9 new ministers join Modi govt; 4 elevated as Cabinet Mins

Kerry Wise
September 4, 2017

Sitharaman has been promoted to the cabinet while Puri and Kannanthanam became Ministers of State.

No stranger to Delhi where he was famous as the "Demolition Man", bureaucrat-turned-politician Alphons Kannanthanam, 64, has beaten all seasoned Kerala BJP leaders to become the first party leader from the southern state to become a Union Minister.

On a day Alphons Kannanthanam was inducted into the reshuffled Union cabinet, wishes poured in from his home state of Kerala.

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 said that he is surprised to get a new position and was not expecting this. The new inductions include four former civil servants with the 1979 batch, Kerala cadre officer being one of them.

BJP legislator O. Rajagopal, who was once the lone representative of Kerala in the Vajpayee government in the early 2000s, welcomed Mr. Kannanthanam's induction as Minister.

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Kannanthanam began his political career by becoming an independent MLA with the support of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in Kerala in 2006.

Alphons is only six years old in the BJP, which he joined in 2011.

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.

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. During his stint in Delhi, as the Delhi Development Authority's land commissioner, he was known as the "demolition man" for his strong drive to remove encroachments.

In 1994, Mr Alphons had featured in Time magazine's list of 100 Young Global Leaders.