The first two Prime Ministers of India, Jawaharlal Nehru and Lalbahadur Shastri, ruled till their deaths.
When Indira Gandhi inherited the mantle in the 1960s, she was on pretty shaky ground. She was seen as a "Goongi Gudiya" (Mute doll) and the Congress elders tried to remote control her. Then there was a split in the Congress party and she had to seek the support of other parties to stay in power.
After that came the bloodbath in East Pakistan and Indira faced the toughest test of her career. She emerged triumphant and Bangladesh was created. She announced general elections and stormed back to power to launch a catchy "Garibi Hatao" (Remove poverty campaign).
After that instead of consolidating her power, arrogance set in that led to her ultimate downfall.
The pattern that was started continues to the present day.
That is: The ruling government at the Centre is its own biggest enemy. Only the Centre can topple the Centre. In the last 35 odd years, self-goals have been the order of the day in New Delhi.
When the Allahabad High Court cancelled Indira's Lok Sabha ticket, all she had to do was accept her loss, petition the Supreme Court and contest another poll in the next six months. Indira was still the most popular leader in India despite the Jayaprakash Narayan movement. All she had to do was have a little humility.
Instead, her ego got in the way and she imposed Emergency. That led to a change of events that changed India for good.
Image: Indira Gandhi celebrates her victory after elections as President of the Congress Party on February 17, 1959.
(Photograph copyright AFP. Any unauthorised reproduction is prohibited)