Ahead of TDP rally, Chandrababu Naidu and several leaders of his party under house arrest

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NEW DELHI: Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and several leaders of his Telugu Desam Party (TDP) have been put under house arrest to prevent them from participating in a massive protest against the government run by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. Large gatherings are banned by the police in Palnadu region, seen to be worst affected by violence fuelled by political rivalries.

The TDP had planned a protest against alleged intimidation by the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP). Mr Naidu's party alleged eight TDP workers have been killed and several face threats from Mr Reddy's party that completed 100 days in power last week.

"It's a dark day for democracy," said Mr Naidu, who will sit on a fast till 8 pm today. Some of the TDP leaders who are under house arrest are Devineni Avinash, Kesineni Nani and Bhooma Akhilapriya.

In turn, the ruling party has also planned a counter-march today in protest against alleged violence unleashed by the previous government led by Mr Naidu. The YSRCP has asked people in Atmakur district and Palnadu region, seen to be worst affected by violence, to come forward and share their complaints. The YSRCP alleged its leaders, workers and supporters were driven out from their villages and false cases were filed against them.

Both the former chief minister and his ruling rival had given a call for a march today to Atmakur, 240 km from Amaravati. Mr Naidu's son Nara Lokesh was stopped from participating in protests near his home in Undavalli. He argued with the police that there was no ban on gathering of large groups in Vijayawada and surrounding areas, and they should not stop him from protesting. "It is my fundamental right to protest," Mr Lokesh said.

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