A day after taking oath as a Lok Sabha member from Srinagar, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah Tuesday held a National Conference version of "chai pe charcha" in the newly-turned BJP bastion Jammu.
Sipping tea at a carefully selected venue, the tea stall of one his ardent fans at Mubarak Mandi in Jammu, Mr Abdullah said the state was passing through a difficult phase and urged people to show grit "for restoration of democracy" and holding of the state assembly elections at the earliest.
Vowing to continue to work for the welfare of the people and development of the state, the National Conference chief urged people to have faith in the democracy, saying there is no substitute to a democratically elected government which reflects the aspirations of the people.
He said the state was facing multiple problems and needs immediate attention which can be possible only when the public representatives linked to the people at the grassroots level are put in place.
"I have been drawing the attention of the Governor's administration towards the problems of people in both rural and urban areas across the state for redressal on immediate basis," he said.
The news about Mr Abdullah's unscheduled visit spread like a wildfire, drawing a huge crowd of people including some Mata Vaishno Devi temple-bound tourists, who jostled with each other to interact and shake hands with him.
The people also warmly greeted him on his re-election to Lok Sabha and wished him a healthy life and eventful tenure in the House.
Keeping his composure, 80-year-old leader too warmly met everyone, obliging them with selfies and waiving at them.
The tea stall that Mr Abdullah chose had attained prominence for its uniqueness of having his larger than life size posters all around.
Mr Abdullah reached the tea stall and after exchanging pleasantries with the surprised owner Ashok Kumar, sat on a wooden bench along with his party's provincial president Devender Singh Rana and other party functionaries.
And then he ordered for tea and some snacks, not only for himself but for his entire entourage, including the security personnel.
While empathising with people's problems of power and potable water scarcity in the scorching summer, Mr Abdullah urged them repeatedly to gear up for the elections and become part of the governance to restore peace, progress and development in the state.
He also wished the Vaishno Devi pilgrims a "blissful" yatra, hoping that they will return back with the message of peace and love from the state.
The tea stall owner described Mr Abdullah's visit as a "dream come true".
He termed the National Conference chief as a "man of the masses", saying he has all along identified himself with people on the street.
He said he was taken by surprise by the visit but had been hoping that one day his ideal will make his secret dream true.
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