Ten years ago, actor Amitabh Bachchan, wife Jaya Bachchan, son Abhishek Bachchan and daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan arrived in a nondescript village of Uttar Pradesh to lay the foundation of an ambitious educational institution. Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and former Jammu and Kashmir CM Farooq Abdullah too had attended the function when Bachchan laid the foundation stone of the college on 27 January, 2008.
Announced as Srimati Aishwarya Bachchan Degree College, the Bachchan family have now abandoned the project, allege villagers.
10 years on, the the villagers of Daulatpur near Lucknow have decided that enough is enough and they could no longer rely on Bachchan and his family to construct a modern educational institution in their vicinity. The villagers have now come together to crowdfund an equally ambitious college, literally 500 meters from the site of the proposed Aishwarya Rai College. Together, they have now collected Rs 60 lakh and even constructed a building with 12 classrooms.
18-year-old Geeta, a resident of Daulatpur, told Times of India that she was happy because, from July, she will not have to travel 30km to pursue her dream of higher education. She will just walk down to Suratganj to study.
It was alleged that the Bachchans had acquired the land from the village council during Mulayam Singh’s rule in 2006. This had caused a huge controversy after it emerged that Bachchan had acquired the land claiming himself as a farmer, a designation that entitled him to buy agricultural land in Pune, Maharashtra.
Later, Bachchan reportedly decided return the land to the village council and it was decided that the Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Prada’s organisation Nishtha Foundation would build and manage the college. This plan too went out of the window forcing the villagers of Daulatpur to file a case of fraud in 2009 against the Bachchans for not returning the 0.24-hectare plot. Faced with embarrassment, Bachchan had no option but to return the land in May 2010. Nishtha Foundation was then replaced with Amitabh Bachchan Seva Sansthan.
In 2012, the college was re-named as Aishwarya Bachchan Girls’ Inter College for higher secondary students. Rajesh Rishikesh Yadav, an aide of the Bachchan family, handed a cheque of Rs 5 lakh to ABSS, for construction of the school. “This was the first and the last installment from the Bachchans,” Amit Singh, secretary of ABSS and also the gram pradhan was quoted as saying.
Janta Ka Reporter made several attempts to reach out to the Bachchans for their comment, but they were unavailable. We will update the story after we hear from them.
In July this year, the college will open with two courses — BA and B.Sc. “This dream has been realised by the people of Daulatpur who recognise the importance of education for their children. We have faced problems but we have also overcome them”, Satyawan Shukla told Asian Age.
Rohit Singh, a student, said, “We wish that Mr Bachchan comes here and sees his dream coming alive. We do not want anything from him except his blessings.”