Several Asian-born candidates are hoping to get elected in Germany's Bundestag elections on Sunday. There are already two Indian-born MPs and one more is trying his luck this year.
Ravindra Gujjula, the first Indian to be elected mayor in Germany
A big fat Indian wedding recently brought some colour to the German election campaign. Elephants, pigeons and Bollywood dancers all lined up to celebrate the marriage of Ravindra Gujjula, who is running for a seat in the German parliament.
The 55-year-old is contesting the elections on a Social Democrat (SPD) ticket from Barnim and Märkisch-Oderland in Brandenburg. His wedding, which was open to the public, has made him known well beyond the eastern state.
Gujjula, who holds the record for being the first non-white person to be elected mayor in Germany, has been active in Brandenburg state politics for the past 20 years. The doctor-turned-politician is originally from Andhra Pradesh in India. He does not think that entering politics in an adopted homeland is that difficult.
“I think it is not difficult to be a politician in Brandenburg because after living in a place for 35 years and when you speak German, you think in German and you live in German and you live with Germans then you are accepted by people.”
“No go areas” are a thing of the past
Brandenburg has seen racially-motivated attacks against dark-skinned foreigners before but Gujjula claims that 'no-go areas' for foreigners are a thing of the past and points to his own success story.
He was elected mayor of Altlandsberg with 82 percent of the votes and is now a member of the state assembly. He believes that his candidacy for the German Bundestag is a sign of how far things have changed in the east.
Gunther Baaske, the chairman of the SPD in Brandenburg, is more cautious: “I don't think that there is really anything like ‘no-go areas’ for foreigners but I must admit that I can understand when people of colour are scared to enter certain areas of Brandenburg out of fear that thugs may go on a rampage.
“But this can also happen to Social Democrats or Christian Democrats or anyone else who does not agree with the neo-Nazis. Ravindra Gujjula is not a figurehead candidate; we have nominated him as candidate because of his great skills.”
Not an easy fight between SPD and Die Linke
The ruling SPD is currently engaged in a tough fight with the leftist party Die Linke in the state of Brandenburg and Gujjula admits that it will not be easy to beat his rival, Dagmar Enkelmann. Posters of the two rivals line the road from Altlandsberg to Berlin.
"I think it is going to be one of the interesting constituencies,” says Gujjula. “One contestant is an immigrant -- a person who looks different and speaks German with an accent -- and on the other side is my opponent, who is by birth German and already a member of the German parliament. She was always called Miss Bundestag because she is considered quite beautiful and she is quite active in her constituency. Let's see what happens on September 27th."
Although Gujjula still makes annual visits to India, he claims that he feels German at heart: “After living here for 35 years and even dreaming in German with no one else to speak to in Hindi and Telugu, I am a German in all senses. I have lived like this without losing my Indian culture and mentality."
Ravi as he is known in Brandenburg, intends to celebrate his victory or nurse his defeat with a bottle of beer.
Author: Preeti John
Editor: Anne Thomas