West Bengal's revered Durga Puja is caught up in a political tug-of-war as the state's ruling Trinamool Congress on Tuesday held a sit-in here, protesting against Income Tax Department's notice issued to Durga Puja committees, claiming the move was influenced by the BJP.
The members of Banga Janani Samiti, a newly formed women wing of Trinamool, gathered at Subodh Mallik Square on early Tuesday morning. Announced by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the dharna would continue till 6 p.m.
"The IT department has issued notice to many committees who organise Durga pujas, asking them to pay taxes. This will be a burden on the organisers. The Bengal government withdrew tax which was earlier there on Ganga Sagar Mela. We demand no taxation on Durga Puja and the organisers," Banerjee had said earlier.
Taking a veiled jibe at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Trinamool Congress Secretary General and state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said: "Prior to the elections, those who said that Mamata Banerjee doesn't let people celebrate Durga Puja, Saraswati Puja and other cultural events, are now creating hurdles for Puja committees with the help of Central agencies".
Chatterjee said those who are trying to attack the emotions and religious sentiments of the people will get a befitting answer.
Countering the allegations, Union Minister Babul Supriyo said Durga Puja is a festival of Bengali people celebrated across the world and there is nothing against Trinamool.
"General people are angry with those who use cut-money for Puja. Naturally, there is dissatisfaction when they see no development, dilapidated roads in contrast to crores of money spent on Puja celebration. Hence, there is the need of following some rules," Supriyo said.
According to Trinamool MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, a huge economy is associated with Durga Puja celebrations and this sudden summon by the IT department is troublesome for the committees.
"If Durga Puja is hampered due to this taxation, Bengali people will not accept it," she said.
Earlier, the Income Tax department served notice to major Durga puja committees, asking them to file TDS.