Maharashtra Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday said he stood by his claim that the Shiv Sena had approached his party for an alliance after the Assembly elections in 2014, The Indian Express reported. The Shiv Sena had refuted the claim in the Wednesday edition of its mouthpiece Saamana.

Long-time allies Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena had contested the 2014 Assembly elections separately as differences arose weeks before the polls. The BJP emerged the single-largest party, and Devendra Fadnavis succeeded Chavan as the chief minister. The Shiv Sena returned to the alliance weeks later and joined the government.

The two parties remained in alliance for five years, albeit with increasing criticism of the BJP by the Shiv Sena. They still contested the 2019 elections together, but could not form a government due to a power struggle after the results. After over a month of twists and turns, the Shiv Sena formed a government with help from the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.

In an interview published on Sunday, Chavan told PTI that the Shiv Sena had proposed a similar coalition government with the Congress and the NCP in 2014 as well to keep the BJP away from power, but the Congress had immediately rejected the idea. Congress President Sonia Gandhi did not want a coalition in 2019 as well, but relented after long deliberations, Chavan claimed.

Reacting to the claim, the Shiv Sena on Wednesday said such a proposal had “no value” at that time. “There is no logic in what Chavan has said,” the party said in Saamana. “The claim should have evaporated in Mumbai’s mild winter breeze. The Shiv Sena and NCP didn’t take the claim seriously. But, BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis criticised the Shiv Sena, saying Chavan had exposed the party.”

Fadnavis, now the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, had said on Monday that Chavan’s claims revealed the “true face” of the Shiv Sena.

In response to the Shiv Sena’s denial, Chavan told The Indian Express that he did not want to rebut the Shiv Sena but he stood by his claim. “I will not reveal names of the leaders who approached us,” he said. “If I do, then I will be betraying confidence that they [Shiv Sena] showed in me.”