The Shiv Sena has decided it needs more young blood in its veins.
The realisation has come after the party saw its worst defeat in 20 years in the Assembly polls and with the apprehension of fighting the 2012 civic elections with the ‘youthful’ Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in the race.
The Sena will launch a statewide membership drive from next week.
A senior leader, requesting anonymity, because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said the party had been targetting young blood to counter the Raj Thackeray-led party as it gears up to guard its traditional strongholds — the municipal bodies.
The drive will commence on January 6, the birth anniversary of Meenatai Thackeray, wife of Sena chief Bal Thackeray. It will end on January 23, Thackeray’s birthday.
The leader said that the party was trying to rope in fresh, young and aggressive faces that can push the Sena’s agenda in their respective areas. These newcomers will be given important posts in the local set-up.
“A plum post in the local shakha will be a career boost for the newcomer who will work aggressively to prove himself. In return, the Sena will get goodwill from the masses and be able to rein in the MNS,” he said.
The municipal elections will be held in February 2012 and with the MNS gaining ground as an alternative to the Sena, the latter is insecure about its voter base. The polls are crucial for both parties. It was the civic bodies in Thane and Mumbai that helped the Sena grow.
Tackling civic issues has always helped the party connect with the masses. The Sena’s priority is to retain power in the civic bodies of Mumbai, Thane, Nashik and other cities of Maharashtra.
Sainiks have been asked to take the membership drive to every home and set up party units in every village. The party is expecting 40 to 50 lakh members this year and leaders at district levels have been given targets of making 1.5 lakh members. The party will also take up social initiatives like blood donation drives to connect with the masses.