The Prayagraj Municipal Corporation in Uttar Pradesh has sent a house tax notice to Anand Bhawan, the place where former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was born, The Times of India reported on Wednesday. Anand Bhawan is also the ancestral home of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.
The corporation has sought dues of Rs 4.35 crore, including tax arrears pending since 2003, the newspaper reported. Anand Bhawan is run by the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Trust, headed by Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
“We conducted a survey to decide the amount of tax,” Prayagraj Municipal Corporation Chief Tax Assessment Officer PK Mishra told ANI. “We also invited objection on the assessment but received none. Then, we finalised our assessment and sent the notice.”
Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund Administrative Secretary N Balakrishnan has replied to the notice, citing anomalies in tax assessment and seeking exemption. The notice was sent around two weeks ago.
“A bill of Rs 3,000 for 2003-’04 was received and duly paid by the trust,” Balakrishnan said in reply to the notice. “However, in 2005, a bill of Rs 24.67 lakh was sent for 2004-’05. Then a yearly bill of Rs 12.34 lakh was sent till 2013-’14, but in 2014-’15 the tax amount was reduced to Rs 8.27 lakh.” The administrative secretary added that the house tax was increased though no new construction has taken place in the location for four decades. He alleged that vacant land was included in the tax assessment.
Meanwhile, former Prayagraj Municipal Corporation Mayor Chaudhary Jitendra Nath Singh said that tax cannot be imposed on Anand Bhawan as the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Trust is exempted from all types of taxes.
“The imposition of tax on Anand Bhawan is wrong,” he said. “The building comes under Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Trust which is exempted from taxes. This is a monument of Independence struggle and a museum of memorabilia. This is a centre of education.”
Abhya Awasthi, a resident of Prayagraj, claimed that the tax notice is part of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s political vendetta. “Anand Bhawan is a temple of freedom struggle,” she said. “The imposition of tax is in line with BJP’s agenda for Congress-free India and Nehru-free world. This has been done on instruction of the government.”