The former IAS officer, who was a surprise entrant in Team Modi's cabinet expansion on Sunday when he was roped in as a minister of state with independent charge, rejected all claims of the BJP being against the consumption of beef, hailing the party's government at the Centre as "very inclusive" and insisting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's message to the people is clear - "believe whatever you want, I will protect you".
"I would be a bridge between the Prime Minister and the Christian community".
With this, Kerala got its first berth in the Union Cabinet. In a massive change, he moved to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and was made a member of its national executive council soon after joining.
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Of the nine who took oath today is Alphons Kannanthanam from Kerala. Veteran BJP leader O Rajagopal and P C Thomas, leader of a Kerala Congress faction were the other Keralities who become ministers in the NDA governments earlier. The new inductions include four former civil servants with the 1979 batch, Kerala cadre officer being one of them.
He resigned from Indian Administrative Service to contest in 2006 Kerala Assembly elections.
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.
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The bureaucrat-turned-politician touched upon this controversial issue of beef, and said just like Manohar Parrikar as the Chief Minister of Goa claimed beef will be consumed in his state, similarly it will be consumed in Kerala.
He got the name of "Demolition Man" when he knocked down 14,310 illegal buildings in the mid-1990s when Commissioner of the Delhi Development Authority and stood his ground even after his wife and children came under attack.
Kannanthanam earned a reputation for being an earnest civil servant after making Kottayam the first fully literate town in the country as part of the literacy campaign launched by the communist state government in 1989. He also featured in Time magazine's list of 100 Young Global Leaders.
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