BJP Appoints First Christian to PM Narendra Modi's Cabinet

Published 08 September 2017  |  
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Alphons_Kannanthanam

Christians and church officials have optimistically responded following the appointment of a first Christian MP to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet on Sept. 6.

Alphons Kannanthanam, a former bureaucrat who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014, has been assigned for the party's election in-charge for Meghalaya which faces Assembly polls in 2018.

"This is a very positive and happy development for us," said Mathew Arackal, Catholic bishop of Kanjirapally diocese, Kerala.

"Whatever the political message [behind the appointment], he is sure to do something good for the community. I have known him from the day he joined the government service," he added, according to Sight.

Since Modi came to power in 2014, India has been witnessing rise in radical extremism and violence against those of minority religions, including Christians and Muslims.

"We welcome the appointment of Kannanthanam, a Catholic, into the government," said Fr Varghese Vallikkat, deputy secretary general, Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council (KCBC).

"So far, we had no representation in the Modi government," he added.

When critics noted that the latest development was to help BJP penetrate Meghalaya where Christians make up a large majority, Fr Vallikkat confidently rejected such claims.

"The appointment of one man is not going to change the whole political scenario," he said.

"Similar appointments had been made earlier. But it did not make much of a change," he added.

Instead, "It [the development] certainly opens up a channel of communication between the BJP government and the Christian community," said Fr Vallikkat.

Kannanthanam, who hails from Kerala, had joined the elite Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1979. In 1985, he made headlines as a bureaucrat, and as the District Collector, he made Kottayam district in Kerala the first fully literate district in the country.

"Nobody would question his commitment to the job he is given. He can certainly be a good link between the [Modi] government and the Christian community," said Bishop Arackal.

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