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Uddhav Teams Up With Sambhaji Brigade, Eyebrows Raised

The Shiv Sena faction under Uddhav Thackeray has joined hands with Sambhaji Brigade to form a new equation in Maharashtra politics. The Brigade has been a controversial outfit which once upon a time had warned Uddhav to remove his father Balasaheb’s picture from the frontage of Shiv Sena Bhavan since it was above the portrait of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Various BJP leaders have said that the alliance will not benefit Uddhav at all. Uddhav and Brigade president Manoj Akhare made the announcement of their alliance on Friday (Aug 26), signaling a major shift in the state politics in the near future. The Uddhav faction is already battered because of the rebellion by chief minister Eknath Shinde and his loyal band of 50 MLAs. His decision to go along with the Brigade will prove an acid test since his other two partners, the Congress and the NCP, had kept the Brigade scrupulously away all these years. Akhare said the Brigade and the Sena will contest coming elections jointly. Uddhav’s decision to take the Brigade along has been viewed by some as an attempt to play the ‘Maratha Card’ from now on. The powerful caste had been backing BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis for his strong advocacy for reservations for the Marathas. Uddhav will try to wean away this factor, it is felt.