Nine new ministers were inducted into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Council of Ministers on Sunday. The swearing-in ceremony took place at Rashtrapati Bhawan at 10.45 am. The portfolios that will be assigned to each of those inducted are yet to be revealed. Dharmendra Pradhan, Piyush Goyal, Nirmala Sitharaman and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi were sworn in as Cabinet Ministers, while nine others took oath as Minister of State.
Of the nine who took oath today is Alphons Kannanthanam from Kerala. Kannanthanam is a retired IAS officer of 1979 batch who joined BJP in 2011. Tipped to be the administrator of Chandigarh last year, the former MLA from Kanjirappally seat was earlier backed by CPI(M). Kannanthanam shot into the limelight during his stint as commissioner of the Delhi Development Authority in the 1990s for his encroachment-clearing drive, and earned the sobriquet Delhi’s ‘demolition man’. He also featured in Time magazine’s list of 100 Young Global Leaders.
Read: Cabinet reshuffle live updates: 9 new ministers to be sworn in at 10.30 am
With the cabinet lacking any representation from Kerala at the present, Kannanthanam induction is part of BJP’s plans to make inroads into Kerala and reach out to the state’s Christian minority. Focusing on Kerala as part of its ‘Mission South’ programme, the BJP-led NDA had reconstituted its Kerala unit last year, inducting senior politician P C Thomas to the NDA central committee. Thomas, who was a minister in the A B Vajpayee government, heads Christian party Kerala Congress.
Given the significant Muslim and Christian population in the state, the BJP is trying to showcase the NDA in the state which comprises various caste and religious groups.