A popular Catholic priest from the Calcutta Archdiocese has left the Church to join the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a move that has shocked local Christians.
Father Rodney Borneo, 40, joined the BJP on the evening of March 9 according to media reports and a video of the priest at a BJP event that circulated on social media.
In the video the priest comes onto a stage where he is handed a BJP flag and told to chant, “Bharat Mata ki jai” (victory to mother India), reported Matters India. Other media reports confirmed that he had left the Church and joined the BJP.
There had been speculation that Father Rodney was going to join the BJP ever since the party’s West Bengal state secretary Sabyasachi Dutta hailed Father Rodney as a person with exceptional qualities.
“We are about to induct Father Rodney on Wednesday (March 10), if all goes well. We will give him the responsibility of advising us on English medium education,” The Times of India quoted Dutta as saying.
The BJP is trying to woo influential persons for an upcoming March-April state assembly polls.
However, in an interview with LiCAS.news on March 8, Father Rodney denied he was joining the BJP. All speculation of joining politics was unfounded, he then said.
Last week he also handed in his resignation as principal of Loyola High School, Kolkata; the exact reasons for which are not publicly known.
His actions have surprised and shocked many Catholics in India’s eastern state of West Bengal.
Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Calcutta described the development as “sad”, reported The Times of India.
“I am sad. But what can I say? It’s his choice to leave the Church and work under a political party,” Archbishop D’Souza said. “We will now look for a replacement for the position of the principal of Loyola High School, which is run by the archdiocese,” he said.