Imam Ali (AS) was very clear that his right as the real successor fo the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was taken away by Saqeefa people, but he will not fight against them because he did not want a harm to reach Islam and Muslims because of an internal war. (Shaqshaqaiyyah sermon, Nahjul Balaghah).
He did not take any part in the wrong acts of the state affairs because the state itself was not following the real teachings of the Prophet (SAWA). Nevertheless, Imam Ali (AS) was always to save the interest of Islam and Muslim even when he was suffering along with all Ahlul Bayt (AS). He sent his sincere followers (Shia of Ali) like Salman, Ammar, Abu Tharr, Miqdad, and others to take active part in the Muslim society in different parts including in expanding and new areas. Shia of Ali have played big rule in the expanding operations of the Muslim world then.