Rejecting Mamata Banerjee’s allegations that the BJP-led Central Government was threatening to bring the Kolkata Durga Puja committees under Income Tax net so that the organisers who enjoy much leverage in their local areas can be arm-twisted to join the saffron outfit, the Bengal BJP on Monday said it was the duty of the Centre to prevent money laundering through the Puja committees.
“Nothing should be read into the Centre’s move to tax the Puja committees. It is just being done to prevent money laundering,” Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said adding it was common knowledge that the chit fund often cash got routed through Puja committees.
“After all they are dealing with public money. They collect cash and donation from the people of the society and they must account for that money,” Ghosh said.
“Lakhs of rupees earned through chit fund are often looted and laundered in this manner and it is the Government’s duty look into this entire business,” he said.
Slamming the Centre for targeting the Kolkata Durga Puja committees with income tax notices Bengal Chief Minister on Saturday said that the Centre was trying to browbeat the local clubs into submission so that they could be forced to work for the BJP in future. “I want the centre to stop bringing the Puja committees in tax net,” Banerjee said showing how the sentiments of lakhs of people were involved with the Durga Puja which was the biggest festival of the Bengali people.
“Even we have withdrawn tax from Ganga Sagar Mela because it involves sentiments of lakhs of devotees. The Centre will only earn people’s ire by taxing the Pujas,” she said adding only about 25 Puja committees out of 2,800 have a budget beyond Rs 50 lakh. “Most of them have a budget of Rs 15 lakh or so and that too is collected through donation and sponsor,” she maintained.
Pooh-pooing Banerjee for shedding crocodile’s tears for the Durga Puja committees another senior BJP leader and party national secretary Rahul Sinha said if she is so concerned about these committees, then why did the TMC Government on several occasions try to stop Durga Puja rituals, in order to allow Muharram in the State.
He asked “what is the harm if IT looks into the money flow in Durga Puja committees. In some puja committees, senior TMC leaders and Ministers occupy important positions and use it to launder their black money looted through cut money and chit fund scams. The TMC is afraid that this link might be revealed.”