Residents of the Thevally ward in Kollam who voted in the by-election on Wednesday had to consider a strange plea from their deceased BJP councillor canvassing votes for the party candidate.
The by-election was called after 23-year-old Kokila S Kumar -who was also the youngest ward councillor- was killed in a road accident last September. The Bharatiya Janata Party zeroed in on her mother B Shailaja -a party worker for the past 25 years- to contest the post that lay vacant after her daughter’s untimely death.
As part of the silent campaigning, a day prior to the polls, the party literally brought her back from the grave with a letter written in first person and duly ‘signed’ by Kokila.
After the initial pleasantries, the letter reads:
"I could not complete the five-year term you gifted me to serve you. The love you showered on me is indeed a great recognition for me. Even though you bid me farewell with a heavy heart on Thiruvonam, I have realized that I cannot part with you."
Terming every voter ‘special’, the letter goes on to appeal for public support to Kokila's mother:
"I want to ask you for something....I cannot do so in person. Please give all the support you can to my mother Shailaja. I request you to do so. I shall not ask anything more from you. I end this letter with the hope that all of you will fulfill my wish.”
While BJP Kollam president Gopinath chose to feign ignorance about such a campaign strategy, the party district vice-president Advocate Gopan demanded to know “What was wrong in that?” and refused to comment further on the matter.
When contacted by TNM, Kokila's mother readily took full responsibility for the letter:
"I have done this for my party. I do not find anything wrong with it. My own daughter is seeking votes for me. What's wrong in that? She was my daughter. This is my right. No one can raise an objection."
Kokila was voted to power in November 2015. She had hardly completed ten months in office when she lost her life on 13 September 2016 while returning home with her father, after a speeding car hit her two-wheeler. Her father succumbed to his injuries a day later.