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Mamata Banerjee to sit on dharna over I-T notices to Durga puja committees

Kolkata: Hitting out at the Centre for issuing income tax notices to several Durga Puja committees in the state, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Sunday said the TMC would sit on a dharna on August 13 to protest the move of the BJP-led government.

"The Income Tax Dept has issued notices to many committees who organize Durga pujos, asking them to pay taxes. We are proud of all our national festivals. These festivals are for all and we do not want any pujo festival to be taxed. This will be a burden on the organizers," she tweeted.

Citing that the Pujas perform a social and religious function, the TMC chief censured BJP's decision and urged people to join the August 13 protest at Subodh Mallik Square in Kolkata. "The Trinamool Congress Banga Janani Wing will sit on a dharna on Tuesday, August 13 at Subodh Mallik Square (Opp Hind Cinema) 10am-6pm. Organisers, participants and all people who love #Bangla may please join," she added.

Durga Puja begins on October 4 this year. This year's contest in the state is more fierce than earlier with the BJP eyeing the Puja committees to make further inroads into Bengal against the TMC, whose leaders had enjoyed virtual monopoly so far.

The TMC has also attacked the BJP government at the Centre for taxing the committees, with Mamata Banerjee seeking an exemption saying the Pujas perform a social and religious function.

Referring to the Ganga Sagar Mela, the chief minister said her government had withdrawn tax on the annual festival. "Bengal government withdrew tax, which was earlier there, on Ganga Sagar Mela. We protest and demand no taxation on Durga puja and Durga puja committees," Banerjee posted on Twitter.

The war of words, which has been ongoing since last week between TMC and BJP over control of community Durga Puja committees, had hit a new mark after Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee alleged that the saffron party was trying to "forcibly grab the Pujas" like the municipalities and gram panchayats. The BJP had then retaliated by saying that the TMC, on the contrary, was trying to "thwart them" from being part of the Puja committees.

(With inputs from Indian Express)

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