Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman
File Photo

Less than a day after announcing that interest rates for small savings were being cut by up to 1.1% for the first quarter of 2021-22, the government has backtracked. In a tweet on Thursday Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the earlier order had been "issued by oversight". As such, the the rate of interest on these will remain unchanged as the last quarter of 2020-2021.

"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 Orders issued by oversight shall be withdrawn," she wrote.

But even as many breathed a sigh of relief, Opposition leaders and critics have lambasted the Finance Minister and the BJP-led government. While some appear to be convinced that the order was withdrawn because Assembly elections are currently underway in several states, others are questioning the situation and the Fianance Minister's work.

"What is the biggest April Fool’s joke here? That a now- rolled back small savings rate cut was issued by “oversight”? Or that Nirmala Sitaraman is Fin Min of this country?" jibed TMC MP Mahua Moitra.

"Really Nirmala Sitharaman, “oversight” in issuing the order to decrease interest rates on GOI schemes or election driven “hindsight” in withdrawing it?" asked Priyanka Gandhi.

Congress leader Digvijay Singh was certain that the decision to roll back the step was taken due to fear of alienating the small savers and common man amid the state elections. In a series of tweets, he sought a promise from the Finance Minister that it would not be implemented again once the elections are over.

Others brought up various decisions taken by the Narendra Modi government over the years, to bolster their criticism. "From demonetisation to promising vaccines first in poll-bound states - every now and then @BJP4India likes to play a prank on the nation. Today it joked around with millions of depositors - maybe the past decisions were also an oversight with delight?" remarked Maharashtra NCP leader Jayant Patil.

"Withdrawn. Looks like, the FM realised there has been a cut announced after reading today morning’s headlines in all the leading newspapers. Truth though is, the GoI policies are a result of oversight hence the failing economy," contended Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi.

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