Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim on Tuesday claimed that income tax notices were being issued to Durga Puja committees at the behest of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Firhad along with other committee members staged a protest against income tax notices being issued to the Durga Puja committees here.
"Common people are the orgzers of Durga Puja here. People who are involved in other professions conduct these pujas as a social service. They lead that committees socially and locally. Now if these people will be indulged in visiting Income Tax office, no one will be able to conduct these pujas. Who will take the trouble then? It is not my business or people's business," Hakim told reporters here.
"This has been done at the behest of BJP because they are scared. First, they wanted to capture the pujas but they failed in that attempt, so now they want to abolish the pujas by creating these problems. We are against that because Durga Puja is the culture of Bengal and it is our national festival and we will always celebrate that," he added.
Hakim went on to say that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has uplifted the Durga Puja celebrations and due to that, many foreign tourists come here from around the globe to be a part of Durga Puja.
On being asked about BJP's allegations regarding black money being converted into white money during these celebrations, Hakim said, "The puja is orgsed using donation money or corporate funding and it is not an individual profit so how chit fund or black money is converted? It is a committee puja, how can it be converted into individual profit?"
Mamata had on Sunday opposed income tax notices and stated that her party will protest against the move.
"The Income Tax Dept has issued notices to many committees who orgze Durga pujos, asking them to pay taxes. We are proud of all our national festivals." she had tweeted.
"These festivals are for all and we do not want any pujo festival to be taxed. This will be a burden on the orgzers. 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.
The TMC chief had also said Trinamool Congress Banga Jan Wing will be sitting on dharna today against IT notices.
Earlier on July 22, Banerjee had hit out at the BJP and said 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 fund for elections that is not under income-tax. So, if puja committees do puja it should not come under income tax," Banerjee had 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 said.
( With inputs from ANI )