Bureaucrat-turned-politician K.J. Alphons, who on Monday took office as Tourism Minister, said he had no inkling he was being made a central minister till he got a telephone call from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
Alphons termed the new assignment as a “pleasant surprise” and a “big responsibility”.
“I was travelling to Calicut (Kozhikode) to deliver a lecture to a youth group of the Art of Living. I was waiting for a flight in Bengaluru when I got a call from the PMO. They asked me to come to Delhi immediately.
“I requested if I can come the next day as I had to deliver an important lecture. But they insisted I must come… After reaching Delhi, I came to know that the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) had decided to give me this opportunity,” Alphons told IANS.
Alphons, who on Sunday became the Minister of State for Tourism and Electronics and IT, is the first BJP leader from Kerala to become a Union Minister after the veteran O. Rajagopal, who served with Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Alphons added that though he had no great experience of the tourism sector, he would do his best to take it to new heights.
“As a civil servant in Kerala, I converted both Kumarakom and Munnar as world-class tourist destinations. I hope that this tiny stint in this sector will help me,” said Alphons, who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2011.
Alphons was known as “Demolition Man” for razing 14,310 illegal buildings in Delhi when he was with the Delhi Development Authority and stood his ground even after his wife and children were attacked. This earned him a place in Time Magazine’s 100 young global leaders in 1994.
After quitting government service in 2006, he contested as a Left-supported independent candidate from Kerala’s Kanjirapally assembly constituency and won. After a five-year stint as a legislator, he quit state politics and joined the BJP.