File photo: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday flayed the Income Tax Commissioner's circular seeking expenditure details from all major Durga Puja organisers in the state, and asked the big clubs to avoid the central tax authorities.
Banerjee questioned whether the Narendra Modi government at the Centre was trying to stop the Durga Puja festivity in Bengal by taking away the organisers' money in the form of income tax and warned that her party would not spare anyone who tries to do so.
"Durga Puja is our biggest festival. People of all communities participate in the festival. They have sent notice to the Durga Puja committee seeking a detailed report of their expenditure. The puja committees are asked to pay income tax. These clubs mostly run on non-profit model. They do not hold the pujas for making profit. Why would they pay income tax?" Banerjee said while talking at the inauguration of the 23rd Jatra Utsav in North 24 Parganas district.
"Are they (Centre) trying to stop the Durga Puja here? Be it Modi or anyone else from the Bharatiya Janata Party, we will not spare anyone who tries to lay hands on any of these clubs. I urge all the clubs to unite and avoid going to the Income Tax department," she added.
Pointing out that the pujas are organised using the common people's money in the form of subscriptions and donations, the Trinamool Congress supremo claimed that the Centre has no right to take away the money as they do not make any contribution.
"This is common man's money. Even the state government has given Rs 10,000 to the clubs during puja for community development purposes but what did you (Centre) provide? Why would they take away money?" she questioned.
She said several religious places and prominent temples in the country like the Balaji Temple, Golden Temple, the Kali Temple and Ajmer Sharif dargah, also do not pay any taxes.
"They are trying to harass the Dura Puja devotees. They have failed to catch the real fraudsters who evade paying taxes and are now living in foreign countries," Banerjee added.
The Commissioner of Income Tax department had sent a notice to the major Durga Puja organisers of the state in December to furnish expenditure details incurred during the festival in 2018.