Express News Service

Solapur, May 19: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament from Solapur constituency Subhash Deshmukh may join the Congress. His statement that Sushilkumar Shinde should become the prime minister of India to serve the nation, made at a function organised by the Sushil Forum at the Hutatma statue on Friday has sent political watchers into a tizzy.

Deshmukh said he not only desired that Shinde should gain the post, but also gave Shinde full marks for all round development of the district as MP and during his tenure as chief minister . Deshmukh had defeated Shinde’s wife Ujwalatai Shinde in the Lok Sabha polls. However, since the seat is now reserved and his mentor Pramod Mahajan is no more, Deshmukh has a strong reason to switch loyalties.

His open praise for Shinde has enthused the Congress camp while BJP workers and local leaders are taken aback. Deshmukh holds considerable clout since he has a big network of cooperative societies and banks all over the district.

The BJP state unit has sought a clarification from him about his statement on Shinde. While talking to The Indian Express, here on Friday, Deshmukh confessed that he had many phone calls from BJP leaders who wanted him to clear his stand. ‘‘I told Sunil Karjatkar (BJP leader) that I am sticking to my statement and they can interpret it as they wish to,’’ Deshmukh said. But he declined to comment on his chances of joining the Congress.