On the third visit to Karnataka since 1 May for the high-octane campaigning for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Prime Minister not only launched another round of attack on the ruling Congress but also claimed to have “saved” the life of Janata Dal (Secular) chief HD Deve Gowda.

Speaking at a rally in the Lingayat-stronghold of Tumakuru, the PM told the gathering how he had in 2014 come down to Karnataka to request the former prime minister to continue serving the society and not give up on political life.

“During the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, Deve Gowda ji had said that he will commit suicide if Modi comes to power,” said the PM.

“In spite of our political rivalry, I came to Karnataka asking Deve Gowda ji to live for a 100 years, serve the society and not commit suicide. This is my respect for the senior leader of our country,” said Modi.

The PM’s remarks came after a recent show of respect between the two leaders which made headlines after Modi praised Deve Gowda during a public meeting on 1 May and slammed Congress president Rahul Gandhi for “insulting” the JD(S) leader.

Addressing supporters in coastal district of Udupi, PM Modi said, “The disrespect shown towards Shri Deve Gowda ji by Congress leaders and the Congress president around 15-20 days ago is not acceptable. If such is their mindset, how can they think good for people of Karnataka?”

The PM said that he himself “opens the door of Deve Gowda’s car” whenever the former prime minister visits him in New Delhi.

Read More: PM Modi praises JD(S) chief Deve Gowda, slams Rahul for ‘insulting’ former PM

“We have had political differences with Deve Gowda Ji but there is no denying that he is among India’s most respected leaders,” said PM Modi in praise of the leader whose party is one of the three contesting the Karnataka elections.

The day after the Udupi rally, Deve Gowda had said that it was Modi who persuaded him to remain in the Lok Sabha even after he had announced the decision to resign if the BJP came to power on its own. It was not the first time that the 84-year-old leader had accepted Modi’s role.

In 2015, Gowda had said that after becoming PM, Modi urged him not to resign citing his presence as necessary in Parliament.

Later, in an interview published by a The Times of India on 4 May, Deve Gowda hailed Modi as a “sharper” orator than former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Deve Gowda, however, said that though the PM listened to his concerns about farmers he did not act.

On Thursday, at a rally in Bengaluru (north), the PM had asked the people not to waste their votes on the JD(S). “JD(S) stands at third place and people should not waste their vote on them,” he reportedly said.

Today, the PM pointed at the alliance between the JD(S) and Congress in the Bengaluru Municipal Corporation claiming that the two parties are working hands in gloves in the elections.