“Apppunalukkol vote muk diyo!” For a moment she forgets she is in Kerala, not her native Assam. But the next moment she corrects herself and asks for vote in Malayalam! The 11th ward of Iritty Municipality in Kannur district is this unique political battlefield where a 24-year-old woman from Assam, Munmi Shaji, is contesting the local body election as the BJP candidate.

The election has not only made this unassuming young lady the talk of the town but it has also laid the foundation for her long-cherished dream of having own house. When she started the campaign after the BJP decided to field her, she never knew she would be that much of a sensation. But once the story captured the attention of movie actor and BJP Rajyasabha MP Suresh Gopi, he has promised to build a house for her and the BJP leadership would get them the land too.

“I am happy that I am contesting in an election and that has led to the realization of my dream of having a house thanks to Suresh Gopi sir, to whom we are indebted a lot,” she says in Malayalam, with the flavour of her mother tongue. Her story is a story of unexpected developments. It was a few years back that she came in contact with Iritty native Shaji who is a mason and a local RSS activist. It was a phone call that brought them closer and that developed into a fruitful romance. Shaji called another guest labourer as part of work, but by mistake it got connected to her, says Munmi, who hails from Lakhimpur in Assam. That call brought them closer and the lotus of love bloomed.

However, when she reached here after marrying Shaji, it was kind of a culture shock for the teenage girl. Moreover, no one in the family knew any language other than Malayalam, which was all Greek for her. Her mother-in-law spoke to her in Malayalam and there was no way other than learning the language on her own, which was a herculean task for her. However, in seven months, she cracked the language, and now she is Irityy’s daughter-in-law the in all respects.

Though it was a ‘love at first phone call, it was an arranged marriage and parents Lila Gogoi and Bhavani Gogoi were all happy, says the candidate with a pleasant smile and all admiration for prime minister Narendra Modi. It was that admiration, along with the politics of her husband, which brought her closer to the BJP, though she belongs to a Congress family. She had worked with the Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the BJP, as its Perinchery unit secretary for two years, and this has also brought her closer to the local people.

Now she and her husband stay in a one-room rented house at Uvvappalli with their daughters Sadhika and Rishika. When Suresh Gopi learnt about this he promised to build a house for her. BJP will identify the land to build the house. The information was conveyed to her directly by senior leaders including Valsan Thillankeri and K Ranjith who visited her home the other day, as she was getting ready to go for the door-to-door campaign.

Though no BJP candidate has ever won the local body election from Iritty, where the UDF and the LDF are the main political rivals, Munmi is confident. With her broken Malayalam, and unbroken confidence, she says she has already won, at least the hearts of the people.