Prime Minister Morarji Desai and his two senior Cabinet colleagues, including Charan Singh, had waited for each other's death.
This truth, stranger than fiction, has been brought to light by eminent jurist Shanti Bhushan in a memoir which is a fascinating insider's account of the Janata Party rule.
Bhushan, who was the Law Minister in the Morarji government, in the memoir "Courting Destiny" laments how overweening ambition of its leaders saw the collapse of the first non-Congress rule in the country.
Bhushan narrates two incidents involving Morarji and Charan Singh which made him conclude in 1978 itself that the government, which abruptly fell in July 1979, would not last much.
It so happened that Charan Singh, who was the Home Minister, came late to a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on electoral reforms at a time when rumours were afloat that he wanted to stage a coup and become the Prime Minister.
Bhushan, who was also a member of the Committee along with L K Advani and P C Chunder, said that Singh told them that he was late as a journalist accosted him when he was about to get into his car and asked whether he was very keen to become Prime Minister?
Singh lost his temper and told the journalist that there was nothing wrong in his ambition to become Prime Minister, but said he was not plotting to remove Morarji from that position.
Someday Morarji would die and there was nothing wrong in his ambition to succeed him as Prime Minister.