Munmi Gogoi credits her ability to speak fluent Malayalam to her mother-in-law. Seven years ago, the Assam native landed in Kerala without knowing a word of Malayalam, to start a life with her husband Shaji, a native of Iritty in Kannur. The 24-year-old year who hails from Assam's Lakhimpur now identifies with the Malayali culture and has found love and acceptance in Iritty. This year, she is contesting on a BJP ticket in the panchayat's ward number 11 for the upcoming local body polls.
"My husband's mother would only speak to me in Malayalam and I would not even understand a word. But because of the constant pressure, I started speaking Malayalam in 7 months," Munmi says with a laugh. The 24-year-old met Shaji, a daily wage worker, by sheer accident, when he dialled her instead of an Assamese worker who was to travel to Kerala for labour. Despite the goof-up, the calls never stopped and the couple were in a long distance relationship for one year, which ended in marriage after Shaji's parents visited Lakhimpur and brought Munmi to Kerala. The couple got married at a local Sri Vishnu temple in Kannur. "Initially I used to gag when I tasted coconut oil. But now I have grown to love it. I also cook Malayali food - everything other than biriyani, which I love to eat," she says with a laugh.
Back in Assam, most of Munmi's family supports the Congress party. However, she says that, it was only after her marriage that she developed an interest in politics. Her husband Shaji, works in the local RSS unit and Munmi was the Perinchery Yuva Morcha unit secretary for two years. This year, she was asked by the Peravoor BJP Mandalam President MR Suresh to contest for the local body polls. The 24-year-old says that she was more than happy to give it a shot.
"Iritty has accepted me as its daughter-in-law. I don't know if it is because I am from Assam, I am always showered with love and warmth here in Kerala. Even while campaigning, there are so many people listening to me speak and accompanying me. It is heart warming," Munmi adds. The 24-year-old and her husband are currently busy holding door-to-door campaigns ahead of the December 14 polls.
While the couple are busy campaigning. their two daughters- aged 6 and 4- stay with their grandmother (father's mother). "All of my family, be it here in Iritty or in Assam have supported my decision to contest," Munmi says.
"My daughters tease me if I speak in Malayalam. They have been raised in Kerala and do not speak Assamese, although I want them to learn it eventually," Munmi adds.
While Kannur is the heartland of the CPI(M), residents of Iritty have elected both UDF candidates as well as contestants from the Left previously. However, Munmi who is a fan of PM Modi says that's what made her contest on a BJP ticket.
The Kerala local body elections will be held in three phases on December 8, 10, and 14. The counting of votes will be on December 16. The elections will beheld in 21,865 wards in the state and for 1199 local bodies which consist of 941 gram panchayats, 14 block panchayats, 86 municipal councils and six municipal corporations.