TMC begins eight-hour long dharna in Kolkata against Centre's decision to tax Durga Puja committees

  • The TMC began its eight-hour-long dharna in central Kolkata in protest against the Central Government's decision to tax Durga Puja committees

  • Mamata Banerjee had announced that 'Banga Janani Brigade', the women's wing of the part, would sit on a dharna on Tuesday

  • Noting that festivals should be exempt from levies, she had urged organisers, participants and all people 'who love Bangla' to join the protest

  • Banerjee said that just like political parties, donations received by festival organisers should be exempted from income tax

The Trinamool Congress on Tuesday began its eight-hour-long dharna in central Kolkata in protest against the Central Government's decision to serve income tax notices to Durga Puja committees.

Criticising the Centre for issuing the notices to several Durga Puja committees in Kolkata, West Bengal chief minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee had on Sunday announced that 'Banga Janani Brigade' — the women's wing of the party — would sit on a dharna at Subodh Mallik Square on Tuesday.

Noting that festivals should be exempt from levies, she had urged organisers, participants and all people "who love Bangla" to join the protest.

The Income Tax department had issued notices to several committees in West Bengal that organise Durga Puja, asking them to pay taxes. After slamming the Centre for the tax, Banerjee proceeded to cite the withdrawal of tax, which was earlier there, on 'Ganga Sagar Mela' — which is the second most popular mela after Kumbh Mela.

On Monday, BJP criticised the TMC's decision to stage the demonstration, accusing a section of ruling TMC leaders of laundering money allegedly looted in chit fund scams through the puja committees. The TMC had termed the allegations as "baseless".

"These festivals are for all and we do not want any pujo festival to be taxed. This will be a burden on the organisers. Bangla govt withdrew tax, which was earlier there, on Ganga Sagar Mela. We protest and demand 'no taxation on Durga Pujo and Durga Pujo committees", she added.

Earlier, Banerjee had hit out at the BJP and said that the puja committees should not come under the radar of the income tax.

"When the election comes, they do Hindu-Muslim... When the election comes, they do this side and that side... Festival is a festival. I will just say one thing that if some party uses the fund for elections that is not under income-tax. So, if puja committees do puja it should not come under income tax," Banerjee said after a meeting with Zilla Parishad members.

"This is a donation given by the public. I condemn this attitude of bringing the puja committee under Income Tax. This is an insult to puja. This is a community programme. The way they are being harassed, I am feeling sad... During the elections, they take the Hindu along, and after the election, they do this," she had added.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Aug 13, 2019 16:36:00 IST