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Catholic inducted in India's pro-Hindu government

Alphonse Kannanthanam becomes part of the cabinet at a time when the government is facing flak for its anti-Christian stance

Catholic inducted in India's pro-Hindu government

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind administering the oath of office and secrecy to Alphonse Kannanthanam (right), the first Catholic minister to be inducted in the cabinet of pro-Hindu BJP-led federal government, Sept. 3. (Photo by IANS)

September 4, 2017

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India's federal government run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party has inducted its first Christian minister Sept. 3, which many see as its response to appease religious minorities in the country.

Alphonse Kannanthanam, a Catholic and bureaucrat-turned-politician, was sworn in as the federal tourism minister as Prime Minister Narendra Modi reshuffled his cabinet of ministers.

Kannanthanam will also handle the additional charge as junior minister for electronics and information technology.

He told that his induction itself is proof that Modi and his government is not sectarian. "The government works for the welfare for everybody in the country, and it has been more than proved right."

He dismissed as "false propaganda" allegations that Modi and the BJP government are against Christians and Muslims.

Kannanthanam, 64, a former seminarian, becomes part of the cabinet at a time when the ruling BJP is facing flak from Muslims and Christians for hard-line Hindu groups attacking them, often with silent support from police and local administrations.

Claretian Father George Kannanthanam, his brother, told that "Alphonse has been trying to coordinate between the church and government and bring the two together."

A recent U.S. report on religious freedom indicated a deterioration of religious tolerance with Hindu nationalist groups perpetrating numerous acts of intimidation, harassment and violence against religious minority communities and Dalits.

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