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Bureaucrat-turned-politician Alphons Kannanthanam began his political journey by becoming an independent MLA backed by the CPI(M) in Kerala in 2006 but joined the BJP in 2011. Kannanthanam, a 1979 batch IAS officer, quit his high- profile career and plunged into electoral politics by successfully contesting from Kanjirappally in Kottayam district. Though he was offered a second chance by the Left in the next assembly polls, Kannanthanam, in a surprise move, turned down the offer, saying that he wanted to shift his activities to the national level. Later, Kannanthanam, known for his strong anti-corruption stance, joined the saffron party and went on to become the member of the national executive. 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 as IAS officer, Kannanthanam served in different key positions.
He shot into fame when he was the commissioner of the Delhi Development Authority during 1990s and his anti-encroachment drive against thousands of illegal constructions gave him the name 'demolition man'. He retired from the IAS and was elected as an Independent member of the Kerala Assembly from Kanjirappally from 2006 to 2011. Kannanthanam is a member of the committee set up to prepare the final draft of the National Education Policy, 2017. He has authored a book -- Making A Difference. In 1994, he was featured in Time magazine's list of 100 Young Global Leaders. Induction of Kannanthanam, who is a practicing advocate, into the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) cabinet is widely seen as a move of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to make inroads in the Christian belt in the state. BJP state president Kummanom Rajasekharan termed his induction into the cabinet as an 'Onam gift' of the NDA government, while the state is all set to celebrate its harvest festival tomorrow. 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.