Morning News :

  • Two-day BJP National Executive meet begins in Bhubaneswar today; Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Party President Amit Shah to attend the conclave.
  • Government says, it will spare no efforts to ensure fair justice to Kulbhushan Jadhav facing a death sentence in Pakistan.
  • Three Tamil Nadu Ministers booked for obstructing Income Tax officers during searches in Chennai.
  • Delhi Election Commission says, EVMs for forthcoming municipal polls are foolproof and cannot be manipulated.
  • Counting of votes begins for by-poll to Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency.
  • In Badminton, Kidambi Srikanth and Sai Praneeth to play in the semi-finals of Singapore Open today.

A two-day meeting of BJP’s National Executive begins in Bhubaneswar today. All party bigwigs, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, LK Advani and Murali Manohar Joshi, will participate in the party’s highest policy making body conclave. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and several other Union ministers will also take part in the deliberations, besides Chief Ministers of all BJP-ruled states.
Briefing media, Union Minister of state for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan said, Odisha will be the Prime Minister’s laboratory for testing of several welfare schemes targeted at the economically weaker sections. More from our correspondent:
"In the backdrop of the overwhelming electoral success in the last panchayat polls and with eyes set on 2019 twin elections, there is likely to be a separate session to prepare blueprint dealing with Odisha at the conclave. Adding momentum to the party’s surge in the State, the BJP president Amit Shah, yesterday made a strong pitch for the 'Odisha focus' future polls to check the ruling BJD to bounce back in 2019 Assembly election.  Sources also said along with other resolutions in the meeting, the BJP will deal with upcoming polls in seven states scheduled for 2018. The state BJP has mobilized around one lakh people, at least 50 each from all the organizational units across the state, to greet Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he arrives at Bhubaneswar this afternoon. SN Pattnaik, AIR News, Bhubaneswar."
Government has said, it will spare no efforts to ensure fair justice to former Indian Navy officer, Kulbhushan Jadhav. Jadhav is languishing in a Pakistani jail after being given death sentence by a Military Court for alleged spying. Talking to reporters in Kolkata, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, all efforts are being made and the government will leave no stone unturned in ensuring justice to Jadhav.
Talking to reporters in Mumbai, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh said, the nation is quite clear on its stand that the allegations against Jadhav were baseless. He said, New Delhi will ensure that the interests as well as lives of its citizens are protected anywhere in the world.
India yesterday sought consular access to Jadhav. Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad Gautam Bambawale met Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua in this connection. Mr Bambawale said Pakistan has denied Indian request for consular access 13 times in the last one year, and that he has once again requested for the access.

The Indian High Commissioner also asked for a certified copy of the charge-sheet as well as the judgement in the death sentence.
In Tamil Nadu, three Ministers and two others have been booked by Chennai Police on charges of obstructing Income Tax officials during their raids last week. The Police filed the FIR against Food Minister Kamaraj, Housing Minister Udumalaipettai Radhakrishnan and Information Minister Kadambur Raju on the complaint of IT officials. Our correspondent reports that the searches were conducted at several places, including the premises of State Health Minister C. Vijayabhaskar, and his close associates and the residence of actor-turned politician Sarathkumar.
"The IT searches on the 7th of this month led to the seizure of documents on disbursal of 89-crore rupees in the bye-election bound Dr Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly Constituency in Chennai, leading to the suspension of the bye-poll. The IT Department wrote to the Chennai Police Commissioner Karan Singha about the behaviours of the three ministers and two others. Video footages suggested, they entered into arguments with the officials apart from trying to transfer some documents out of the premises. The Chennai Police has filed the FIR and booked them under four sections including obstructing government officials from discharging their duties, tresspass and issuing threats, after consulting legal experts. Jayasingh, AIR News, Chennai."

The Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the 'Power for All' scheme in the state. The aim of the scheme is to ensure 24-hour quality power supply in the state by October next year and electric connection to every house and agriculture field by 2019. The agreement was inked in presence of Union Minister of State for Power Piyush Goyal, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and State Power Minister Shrikant Sharma. Our correspondent has filed this report:
"After coming in to effect of  the scheme, state will get enough uninterrupted  quality electricity and  around 1 crore 86 lakh house holds of state who are still deprived  will get electric connections. The project will cost  above rupees 40 thousand crore out of which 20 thousand crore will be spent till 2018.  With the signing of 'Power for All' agreement  government also  introduced UJALA Scheme under which consumers were distributed Quality based energy saving LED bulbs , tube lights and  fans at a cheaper rate." MS Yadav, Air News, Lucknow"
Delhi State Election Commissioner has said, the Generation-1 Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), brought in for the forthcoming municipal polls in the national capital are foolproof. State Election Commissioner SK Srivastava said, the process is fairly randomised and so the programme used in these machines cannot be manipulated to benefit any one candidate or party. More from our correspondent:
"According to the State Election Commissioner, these machines are not networked either by wire or wirelessly to any other machine or system, so, there is no possibility of its data corruption. Mr Srivastava's remarks assume significance as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had demanded that the municipal polls be postponed by a month or two till arrangements are made to use EVMs equipped with Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail, VVPAT. Generation-1 machines are those which were manufactured before 2006. AnupamMishra, Air News, Delhi"
In Jammu and Kashmir, counting of votes has begun for by-poll to the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency. The counting is being held at Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre. Counting of migrant votes is simultaneously taking place in Jammu, Udhampur and New Delhi.
The electoral fate of nine candidates, including National Conference President Farooq Abdullah, will be decided. Mr Abdullah is locked in a direct contest with ruling PDP's Nazir Ahmad Khan. The by-poll to Srinagar Lok Sabha seat was held on the 9th of this month, while re-polling took place at 38 polling stations on Thursday.
Government is planning to issue an advisory to states asking them to crack down against unfair imposition of service charge on food and drink bills. Talking to reporters in New Delhi, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the service charge does not exist and it is being wrongly charged. He said his ministry has prepared an advisory on this issue and sent it to the Prime Minister's Office for approval.
In Tamil Nadu, the 45-day fishing ban in the eastern coastal zone has been enforced from midnight last night. Our correspondent has more:
The fisheries authorities have stopped issuing tokens for fishing to fishermen. The 45 day fishing ban for mechanized boats is enforced for fish species propagation under the Tamil Nadu Fisheries Regulation Act. This is to protect fish in their breeding season and increase the fish catch. Fishermen from Tiruvallur in north to Kannya Kumari in south will not venture out into sea till end of May. Each fishermen family will be given Rs 5000 as compensation by the state government during the ban period.  K Devi Padmanabhan, AIR News, Tiruchirapalli."
There has been no respite from the gruelling heat wave conditions in Odisha. As many as 13 towns witnessed maximum day temperatures hovering over 40 degree Celsius yesterday. Titlagarh remained the hottest place in the state at 43 degrees, followed by Bolangir at 42.7 degrees.
In Bangladesh, a fully-air conditioned Dhaka-Kolkata Maitree Express with improved coaches was inaugurated in Dhaka yesterday. Bangladesh Railways Minister Mazibul Hoque and Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla inaugurated the train on the first day of Bangla New Year in the country.
More than 80 terrorists were killed when the United States dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb on an Islamic State terror group tunnel complex in Afghanistan in Thursday. This was stated by the spokesman for Nangarhar provincial Governor’s office. US military aircraft had dropped the 22,000-pound Massive Ordinance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb, nicknamed the Mother of All Bombs in Nangarhar Province.
In Badminton, Kidambi Srikanth and Sai Praneeth will play their semi-final matches of Singapore Open Superseries tournament today. While Srikanth will clash with Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting, Praneeth will play Lee Dong-Keun of South Korea. Srikanth and Praneeth are the only Indians left in the tournament.
In Cricket, Aussie medium pacer Andrew Tye became the first debutant to take a hat-trick in IPL as Gujarat Lions beat Rising Pune Supergiant by 7 wickets at Rajkot last night. Put in to bat, Pune were restricted to 171 for 8, with Tye bagging 5 wickets and conceding just 17 runs from 4 overs. In reply, Gujarat overhauled the target with 2 overs to spare thanks to a powerful batting performance. Brendon McCullum top scored with 49. However, it was the end-of-innings fireworks from skipper Suresh Raina and Aaron Finch that helped Gujarat record their first win of the tournament in 3 games.
Earlier in the day, Mumbai Indians had defeated Royal Challenges Bangalore by 4 wickets.
Today, Kolkata Knight Riders will take on Sunrisers Hyderabad at 4 PM, while Delhi Daredevils will meet Kings Eleven Punjab at 8 in the evening.

  • The Jammu  and Kashmir videos of jawans and stone pelters sparking a row in the valley is the lead in The Times of India and The Statesman.'Five held for assault on CRPF men, Mehbooba seeks report on disturbing videos' reports The Statesman.
  • The Indo Pak impasse on Kulbhushan Jadhav figures in most dailies.While 'India set to defend Jadhav in Pak Court' is The Hindustan Times headline, The Tribune says 'Pakistan firm on death'.
  • 'Bhubaneshwar decked in saffron' is how The Statesman refers to the BJP national executive meet beginning today in Odisha.' All eyes on Adityanath' writes The Hindustan Times, as apparently the newly appointed Chief Minister has created a buzz in the city.
  • 60,000 people under Income tax laws for cash transactions is the focus of the business dailies. 'Income tax department crackdown on suspicious cash transactions after note ban, says The Financial Express.
  • The Prime Minister launching the Aadhaar  pay system allowing cash transfers using biometrics even without phones is covered extensively by the press. 'Big thumbs up to cashless payments' says The Economic TimesThe Financial Express shows the Prime Minister launching the Bhim-Aadhaar app, which would make this possible, on Ambedkar Jayanti.
  • 'No school, college offs on Jayantis - 220 days of teaching mandatory in UP schools' reports DNA, of Yogi Adityanath's decision.
  • 'Centre charged up over service charge on food' says The Tribune, of the government plan to issue an advisory to states on this. 'Eateries can't fleece you for service' is how The Pioneer puts it.
  • And finally, call it wonderlust or sheer grit.  The Hindustan Times has a picture of an Italian tourist cycling through Old Delhi - multiple sclerosis being no deterrent.
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