Justifying his decision to go with the National Democratic Alliance, Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan said on Wednesday he took the right step at the right time and there was no point clinging to the past.

“After the Emergency, Indira Gandhi lost in the 1977 elections, but was voted back to power in 1980. How long will you drag an issue (reference to the Gujarat riots). I was the only one to resign from the NDA cabinet in 2002. Every 12 years there’s a new era. We have to learn from past mistakes, but we cannot be stuck in the past,” Mr. Paswan told a press conference in Patna.

“BJP president Rajnath Singh has apologised so what more do you want. And Narendra Modi did not oppose him,” Mr. Paswan said.

He announced the seven seats his party would be contesting. They are Jamui, Samastipur, Munger, Hajipur, Vaishali, Khagaria and Nalanda.

Mr. Paswan said he was making the best efforts to forge an alliance with the Congress and the RJD, but his party was “insulted” and “sidelined” in a way that the people felt it had no existence. The Congress and the RJD, he said, dragged the talks with the intention of limiting us to three seats at the last moment.

“We should have taken the decision to tie-up with the BJP much earlier. Though we have few seats, my stature is that of a national leader,” he said.

On the criticism from Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, Mr. Paswan said they were still his friends.

“Unlike them I am not going to flip flop on my opinion of them. They are still my friends and I respect them,” he said.

He said the BJP had “opened up” and Dalit leaders including himself, Ramdas Athavale and Udit Raj were now in the NDA fold.

Correction

In “We can’t be stuck in the past: Paswan” (March 6, 2014), the opening paragraph quoted Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan as saying – in the context of his decision to ally with the National Democratic Alliance – that there was point in clinging to the past. Actually, he said there was no point in clinging to the past.