Pallam Raju's presence in CABE meeting uncertain

Pallam Raju's presence in CABE meeting uncertain

HRD Minister M M Pallam Raju, who has been skipping the official programmes ever since he submitted his resignation over the Telangana issue, today attended an award ceremony organised by his Ministry at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

However, uncertainty looms over the presence of the Minister at the crucial CABE meeting tomorrow, which among others would deliberate on the status of the mid-day meal programme.

Raju and his four Ministerial colleagues from the Seemandhra region had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday to press for their resignation but had got no word on its acceptance. Raju had skipped yesterday's Union Cabinet meeting.

He attended the function organised at the Rashtrapati Bhavan's Darbar Hall to honour winners of 'Presidential Awards For Classical Tamil'. President Pranab Mukherjee distributed the awards.

Close aides of Raju explained his presence today, saying the minister would not like to show any disrespect to the President.

They were, however, uncertain over his presence at the meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE), the highest decision-making body on education in the country.

Raju has refused to join office ever since he resigned from the Union Council of Ministers.
The CABE meeting, chaired by the HRD Minister, is attended by state education ministers, academicians and other experts.

The meeting is expected to deliberate on a crucial report on national mission on teachers and teaching and an update on the mid-day meal programme.

Sources said Raju's absence could result in the meeting deferring decisions on important proposals.

Officials in the Ministry, however, did not rule out the possibility of one of the ministers of states -- Jitin Prasada or Shashi Tharoor -- chairing the meeting.

While Raju is staying put at his official residence, officials are chairing meetings on his behalf, as was the case yesterday when the higher education secretary chaired a meeting with the principals of autonomous colleges.

Several of his official engagements have been cancelled following his resignation, one of his staff members said.

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