Ex-bureaucrat Alphons Kannanthanam is first minister from Kerala in the Modi government

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new man to handle tourism, an area where the NDA government has launched a number of projects over the last two years, is Alphons Kannanthanam - a bureaucrat-turned-politician who has a strong reputation as an administrator.

Modi's move to induct Kannanthanam, a 1979-batch IAS officer from Kerala, in the council of ministers is being seen as part of the BJP's efforts to expand its footprint in the southern state, where it has been working hard to emerge as a potent force.

He replaces Mahesh Sharma, who retains his post as MoS Culture.

Kannanthanam, who is the first minister from Kerala in the Modi government, was born in a non-electrified Manimala village in Kottayam district to a World War II veteran.

During his stint in the IAS, Kannanthanam served in several key positions. He shot to fame when as the commissioner of the Delhi Development Authority in the mid- 1990s he ordered demolition of thousands of illegal constructions, earning himself the sobriquet of 'demolition man'.

Among his major achievements is the key role he played in the literacy movement in India. As Kottayam district collector, he helped it become the first 100 per cent literate town in India in 1989.