New Delhi: K.J. Alphons Kannanthanam, the first BJP leader from Kerala to make it to the Narendra Modi Ministry, is not one to mince his words. Hours after taking oath as Minister of the State on September 3, Kannanthanam said that Kerala had to be part of the “Modi scheme of things” if it did not want to be left behind.
Speaking about the BJP in Kerala, Kannanthanam conceded that there was a long way to go for the party in the State. “In all these years, people of Kerala have alternated between the Congress and the CPI(M). We have a Prime Minister who believes in New India, where everyone has food and every child goes to school; Kerala too has to be part of the ‘Modi scheme’ of things. When India is marching ahead, Kerala can’t be left behind,” he told The Hindu.
Currently, the BJP has one MLA in the 140-member Kerala Assembly. In the 2016 Assembly elections, the BJP and its four allies put together got a 15% vote share.
Commentators say that choosing Mr. Kannanthanam over other Kerala BJP leaders is an obvious effort to woo the Christian community in the State. BJP president Amit Shah, during his tour to Kerala in June, spent considerable time with bishops from various sections of Christian churches.
“I don’t really think the Prime Minister picks people on basis of their religion or caste. He chooses them on their competence. My biodata is not limited to my being Christian. At the same time, Modi government is for everyone and after all Christians too belong to India. What is the harm in having an inclusive Cabinet,” he said.
In 2006, he was elected to the Kerala Assembly from the Kanjirappally constituency as an Independent candidate supported by the CPI(M). In 2011, he quit the Assembly to join the BJP.