Church suspends priest for contesting elections

A priest who is contesting Jharkhand's state assembly polls this month has been suspended by the church, charging him with having violated their canon law.

Albinus Murmu, who has filed nominations as an independent candidate from Dumka district's Shikaripura constituency, was suspended on charges of not seeking the requisite ecclesiastical permission for contesting.

A press statement by the Bishop's House of Dumka said that Murmu's decision to contest was against the canon law since fighting elections meant dividing people.

Noting that catholic priests, nuns, fathers and brothers who have taken oath to serve god are barred from fighting any election, spokesman Robert Soreng said that Murmu was henceforth deprived of all priestly privileges endowed on him by the church.

But the priest who is continuing with his campaigning for the elections where he is pitched against sitting legislator of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Nalin Soren, said he is determined to contest in the polls.

"I am fighting the election on the wishes of downtrodden people and God. I have no regrets and no complaints against the Bishop House's decision to suspend me," he said.

Jharkhand has been holding its three-phase assembly elections this month. The first two phases of polling were held Feb 3 and Feb 15, while the third phase will be held Feb 23.