Dismissing Bharatiya Janata Party chief Rajnath Singh’s “apology” to Muslims, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said on Thursday that the party lacked the courage to apologise.

“They are caught in their own web. You need to have the courage to apologise. The BJP does not have the courage,” Mr. Kumar said in response to a question at a press conference.

Mr. Kumar, who has made the special status for Bihar his chief poll plank, has planned an elaborate programme around the issue, in a bid to counter the BJP’s ‘rail roko’ (stop trains) campaign on Friday.

Bandh against Centre

While the BJP has appealed to the JD (U) to support its campaign, Mr. Kumar said there was “no quid pro quo” on the matter of special status. He has called a Bihar bandh on March 2.

He also took a dig at his old ally saying the JD (U) will not use coercion or force to implement the bandh. Essential services and examinations should not be disturbed, Mr. Kumar said.

“There will no ‘roko’ (stop), but ‘khud ruko’ (stop work willingly),” he said.

On Friday, a mashal juloos (torchlight procession) has been planned in the State. For the next day, he gave the call for ‘thali peeto’ (voicing protest by banging plates) andolan.

“The voice of the people of Bihar should reach the Centre, who has turned a deaf ear to us. The Union government has rubbed salt in Bihar’s wounds but giving special status to Seemandhra in a day, but shelving Bihar’s long-standing demand,” Mr. Kumar said.

The Communist Party of India and Communist Party of India (Marxist) have declared their support for Bihar bandh. The JD (U) may forge an alliance with the CPI in Bihar.

Mr. Kumar reiterated that he had no role to play in the Rashtriya Janata Dal split. He dared his political rivals to move a no-confidence motion against his government, which is in minority. He also warned of legal action against RJD supports, who marched on the streets and threw stones at the Assembly Speaker’s residence.

“The law will take its course,” Mr. Kumar said.