Senior Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi on Saturday claimed that Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar had agreed to an alliance with his party in the last assembly elections in Maharashtra.

“In the 2009 State Assembly polls, Pawar had expressed his willingness to have an alliance with Shiv Sena,” Mr. Joshi, former Lok Sabha speaker, said here.

Asked whether it was Mr. Pawar or the Sena which had initiated the move, Mr. Joshi said he could not recollect that now. “I was asked by Uddhavji (the present Sena president Uddhav Thackeray), to hold talks with Pawar and I did,” Mr. Joshi said.

“Pawar later backed out. I don’t know why,” the former chief minister said.

Reacting to Mr Joshi’s claim, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “Joshi does not have a place in Shiv Sena. He was denied Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha tickets by that party.

“He is trying to create a space for himself in the party through such baseless allegations,” Mr. Malik said.

Mr. Joshi’s revelations follow claims by senior Sena-BJP leaders Uddhav Thackeray and Gopinath Munde that Mr. Pawar wanted to join NDA.

“The only leader waiting for anything is Pawar himself, and he has been waiting to join the NDA,” Mr. Munde had said, reigniting the controversy initiated by Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray who claimed that it was due to his opposition that Mr. Pawar could not join the NDA.

Mr. Munde said Mr, Pawar had indeed approached NDA leaders. “I spoke to Uddhav about it and then to other alliance partners in Maharashtra. And we all decided together that we would not allow Sharad Pawar and his NCP to join the NDA,” the BJP leader had said.