The Congress hit out at Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday after she announced withdrawal of the interest rate-slashing order and asked whether the U-turn was an "oversight" or an "election-driven hindsight".
The opposition party asked the finance minister to clarify if the interest rates would not be reduced after the ongoing Assembly elections and demanded a guarantee on that. It also asked whether the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was running a "circus" or a government on the manner in which the order was issued by "oversight" and later withdrawn.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged that the small saving rates would be reduced soon after the elections in four states and a Union Territory.
"There was already a loot on petrol and diesel and soon after the elections end, the small saving rates will be reduced and there will be a loot on the savings of the middle-class.
"This government is of jumla (rhetoric) and the loot of common people," he said in a tweet in Hindi, using the hashtag "oversight".
"Really Nirmala Sitharaman 'oversight' in issuing the order to decrease interest rates on GOI schemes or election driven 'hindsight' in withdrawing it?" Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wrote on Twitter.
Addressing a press conference here, party leader Rajeev Shukla said Sitharaman should clarify whether the order has been withdrawn, postponed or would be re-implemented later.
"This is a very serious issue. This kind of an order would have jeopardised the interests of the common man," he said, alleging that the Indian economy is already in bad shape and this will affect savings.
Shukla said the government should explain how the order was issued by "oversight".
"The finance minister should reveal how such an order was issued. She should guarantee that the government would not reduce the interest rates on small savings as such an order would hurt people," Shukla said, asking Sitharaman to clarify if the order has been deferred, cancelled or will be re-implemented after the elections are over.
Congress general secretary and chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala hit out at Sitharaman and said she has no right to continue as the finance minister.
"Madam FM, Are u running a 'Circus' or a 'Government'?
"You have no moral right to continue as FM," he wrote on Twitter.
"One can imagine the functioning of economy when such duly approved order affecting crores of people can be issued by an 'oversight'. Who is the competent authority referred in order," Surjewala added.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said when inflation is at about six per cent and expected to rise, the BJP government is offering interest rates below six per cent, hitting the savers and the middle class below the belt.
"The BJP government had decided to launch another assault on the middle class by slashing the interest rates and profiting itself. When caught, the FM is putting forward the lame excuse of 'inadvertent error'," he wrote on Twitter.
"Announcement of interest rates on savings instruments for the next quarter is a regular exercise. There is nothing 'inadvertent' about its release on 31st March," the former finance minister added.
After the government issued fresh interest rates, Sitharaman, in a tweet, said, "Interest rates of small savings schemes of GoI shall continue to be at the rates which existed in the last quarter of 2020-2021, ie, rates that prevailed as of March 2021. Orders issued by oversight shall be withdrawn.
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