Indian-origin man leads in mayoral polls in Bonn

A 49-year-old Indian-origin man in German city of Bonn has emerged as the front-runner for the city's top job ahead of this Sunday's polls to elect a new mayor, according to a opinion poll.

Berlin: A 49-year-old Indian-origin man in German city of Bonn has emerged as the front-runner for the city's top job ahead of this Sunday's polls to elect a new mayor, according to a opinion poll.

Ashok Sridharan, who is the candidate of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has established a narrow lead over his nearest rival Peter Ruhenstroth-Bauer of the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

However, around 26 per cent of the voters are still undecided about who they will vote, according to the polls.

Four other candidates also are in the race for the mayor's office. Current SPD mayor of Bonn Juergen Nimptsch announced at the end of last year that he will retire when his term expires in October.

Around 245,000 voters in Bonn will go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new mayor.

Sridharan, who is the son of a migrant from India and a German mother, currently serves as the treasurer and deputy mayor in the nearby town of Koenigswinter.

Even though Bonn is one of 178 cities and towns which will choose new mayors and municipal councils in the state of North Rhine Westphalia, the election in the former German capital has gained special significance and its outcome will be watched with great interest across this nation.

If elected, Sridharan will become the first Indian-origin mayor of a major German city.

The CDU has pinned high hopes on its candidate to regain control of Bonn after more than 20 years' rule by the SPD.

The CDU is also hoping that a victory in Bonn will enable the party to recover from a string of defeats in the elections for mayor in several cities during the last two years and to prepare the ground for the national election in 2017.

Sridharan closeness to the citizens of Bonn also has been widely appreciated by his party colleagues, who bestowed him with the title "Indian boy of Bonn" at the CDU's carnival celebrations early this year.

Sridharan's nomination is also seen as a gesture of goodwill by the CDU towards Germany's ten million strong migrant community and a strong signal that they are welcome in the party.

During his election campaign, Sridharan emphasised that if elected, he will give top priority for reducing the city of Bonn's 1.7 billion euro debts and for achieving a balanced budget. 

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