Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Tuesday hit out at the Income Tax department over its clarification on notices given to Durga Puja Committees stating that it is giving birth to "tax terrorism".
"Income Tax department is questioning the functioning of Durga Puja Committees and asking them to file tax returns. They are creating a scenario to make it seem like these committees are using black money. Income Tax officials are becoming tax terrorists, who are giving birth to tax terrorism," Chowdhury said here at the Congress party office.
He said it is the people of West Bengal who donate their hard-earned money for setting up pandals and for the puja. "The culture of giving money for the puja is not new. It is a very old tradition in Kolkata," he said.
Meanwhile, protesting against the Centre for issuing income tax notices to several Durga Puja Committees in the city, the Trinamool Congress said that festivals should be exempt from tax. Claiming that there is something fishy about the Income Tax department's stand on Durga puja, the Congress lawmaker said: "If anyone from the political parties attends, donates or celebrates this festival then it is wrong to attach Durga puja with any political party."
He added it is not acceptable that the environment of the puja is being destroyed.
"I will not support this move and protest against the Income Tax department," he said. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also slammed the Central Board of Direct Taxation (CBDT) over its clarification on the notice to Durga Puja Committees and claimed that it was 'factually incorrect'.
She termed tax deduction at source (TDS) as 'terrible disaster scheme'.
"CBDT clarification that no notices have been issued for this year makes little sense. It is only obvious that for pujas held this year, notices will only be issued next year, which is as per their scheme of tax assessment," Banerjee explained asking why the agency was misleading people.
Banerjee said that the CBDT's press release is a sheer distortion of facts with an aim to create confusion in the minds of local people and puja committees.
"This is an attack on our culture and on our Durga Puja festival. I do not know whether this is being done knowingly or unknowingly, but it is certainly in bad taste, especially when people of all religions, caste and creed participate in our Durga Puja," she said.
She demanded the taxation be withdrawn and said that the festival should be allowed to be celebrated with its usual fervour.