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.
"We were appalled at Chaudhury sahib speaking about Morarji's death in such a casual manner," Shanti Bhushan said, recalling that the same afternoon he met the Prime Minister to remove the impression from Morarji's mind that Singh was plotting his ouster.
"It was in a totally different language that I narrated to Morarji that Chaudhury had told the Cabinet Committee about his ambition to become the PM if and when there was a
vacancy," he said.
Though he had sufficiently sugar coated what Singh had said, a shrewed Morarji guessed what must have actually been said.
He immediately asked how Charan Singh could be sure that he would not predecease him. Morarji obviously had in mind that though he was much older than Singh, he was in much better health and, therefore, would outlive Singh.
Singh at that time was close to 76 and Morarji mentioned half a dozen names of important political leaders who had died at 75 or 76.
"Morarji then lowered his voice and almost whispered to me that in fact an astrologer had told him that he was going to lose two of his Cabinet ministers within a year," he said.
When Bhushan enquired anxiously to the Prime Minister hoping that he was not one of them, Morarji assured him he was not. The two were supposed to be Charan Singh and Jagjivan
"One hearing this I had no doubt left in my mind thatthe government could not survive for long.
"I was convinced that if the PM was waiting for the death of his two senior-most colleagues and one of them in turn was waiting for the death of the PM, it was impossible for such a government to survive," Bhushan said.
Incidentally, Morarji lived till 1995. Jagjivan Ram and Charan Singh both predeceased him in 1986 and 1987 respectively.