Kolkata | West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday lashed out at the BJP-led central government for issuing a tax notice to the Durga Puja Committees Forum, an apex body of the festival organisers in the state.
Accusing the BJP of doing politics in the name of Hindu religion at the time of the general election, the chief minister said now the same people are asking Durga Puja organisers to pay tax.
“During the elections, they (the BJP) talk of the Hindu religion and then they try to collect income tax from organisers of the Durga Puja, the greatest festival of the Hindus. This is not right,” Banerjee said.
She argued that ‘puja committees’ must not be put under the income tax net.
Reacting to the allegations, the BJP claimed that she was afraid that the money taken from chit fund companies through these committees, led by TMC leaders, might come to the fore.
The Forum, which comprises Durga Puja committees, was last week asked by the Income Tax department to file returns on its expenses made during the festival.
“The Durga Puja committees collect donations from common people and also seek sponsors to organise the ‘pujas’. They don’t do it from their earnings. So, where is the question of filing IT returns? This is an insult to the pujas.” she said.
Banerjee said the festival is a social function and not a commercial one while the government too has some social obligations.
“The Durga Puja committees also generate thousands of employment opportunities during this time. I feel so bad about the manner in which they are being harassed by the IT Department. I feel devastated,” the chief minister said.
BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha questioned why the chief minister was worried.
“Is she afraid that some ugly truths might come out? The fact is that several of her party leaders have swindled crores of rupees through chit funds via a few puja committees.
It will come out if a proper investigation is held,” Sinha said.
It was her government which had “tried to stop” Durga Puja in the state for the sake of vote bank politics and she should stop lecturing others, Sinha said.