In 1958, Mao Zedong launched the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to forcibly collectivise Chinese agriculture and industrialise the country within just a few years. This involved the use of pseudoscientific farming practices which reduced yield rather than increasing it, massive industrial and irrigation projects which diverted manpower from food production and placed enormous demands on the remaining farmers, attempts to stamp out the customs and traditions that served as the fabric of the peasant farmers' livelihood, wholesale torture and murder of anyone who tried to point out the impossibility of the demands being placed on the populace or the massive blunders being made, etc.
Unsurprisingly, the Great Leap Forward was an unmitigated disaster, seeing a collapse in food production, the confiscation by Communist Party officials of what little food was left, massive famine (resulting in 30-55 million deaths),1 and tremendous damage to the Chinese economy and infrastructure; armed revolts broke out across China (although not on a large enough scale to seriously threaten the central government's hold on the country), and the catastrophe probably came closer than anything else before or since to causing the collapse of the People's Republic of China. Mao, the architect of the Great Leap Forward, was forced out of the governmental decision-making process in favour of Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping (allowing China to recover from what Mao had done to it), and remained out of power until he made his return in 1966 with the Cultural Revolution. However, unlike the opponents of the Great Leap Forward, who had been purged (and, in many cases, executed) for daring to oppose him, Mao was allowed a comfortable semi-retirement which left him the opportunity to plan his comeback. This would eventually come around to bite Liu and Deng in their asses, as Mao had both of them purged in revenge (resulting in Liu's death and nearly Deng's as well).
Given the disaster Mao had wrought, why didn't Liu and Deng have him purged (and possibly executed) as punishment for the failures of the Great Leap Forward?
1: This makes the Great Chinese Famine of 1959-1961 the single deadliest famine in all of recorded history (with even low-end estimates placing it at well over twice the death toll of the runner-up), caused China's population to actually decrease during the years of the Great Leap Forward (one of only three times this has happened in the last 600 years), and left 1960 with the dubious honour of being the only known year in human history where the total number of human deaths worldwide surpassed 60 million (a number that has still not been surpassed, even with the considerable increase in the world's population since then).