Back then in the year 2008, some members of Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited (ABCL) of our very own Big B, held a meeting with the villagers of Daulatpur of Barabanki, 70km from Lucknow, U.P. to inform that the film actor wanted to start a college named after his actress daughter-in-law, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
The village was catapulted to sudden stardom after millennium hero, Amitabh Bachchan accompanied with his wife Jaya, son Abhishek and daughter-in-law Aishwarya laid the foundation of Srimati Aishwarya Bachchan Degree College on January 27, 2008. Many political leaders and big shots including Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav, former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu and former CM of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah had attended the function.
Rajesh Rishikesh Yadav, an aide of Bachchan said, “The village committee has handed over the land to Amitabh Bachchan Sewa Samiti (ABSS), a newly formed organisation. The construction work will start soon. Initially, there would be a school from nursery to class 12 and later on, it would be upgraded to a degree college.”
Former SP leader Amar Singh was the mastermind behind this plan and it was resolved that while the land would be handed over to the gram sabha, Nishtha Foundation, an organisation of Jaya Prada, Samajwadi Party MP, would build and manage the college. But after Singh was kicked out from SP, Jaya also withdrew herself from this project. The villagers felt cheated, so the village chief of Daulatpur moved an application with the police in October 2009 seeking an inquiry into the “fraud” committed by Amitabh Bachchan by not returning back 0.24 hectare of land to the gram sabha.
Meanwhile, this land got handed to Daulatpur gram sabha in May 2010, but it was said at that time from Bachchan’s side that there was a dispute over the land in Daulatpur and so they were looking for some other option to open the college.
It has been a decade now, and still not a brick has been laid on the ground. The foundation stone lies dumped in a dusty corner of the gram pradhan’s house.
Even after the star project came to a halt, Daulatpur didn’t stop dreaming. The villagers of the village Daulatpur pooled in Rs 60 lakh and constructed a building, which currently houses 12 classrooms through crowd-funding. 500m away from Bachchan’s barren plot, they managed to build a degree college. The college has been named Daulatpur Degree College, affiliated to RML Avadh University, Faizabad.
Daulatpur village chief’s son once said,
“We may forget the past if we get a college in our village. We are happy that the film star is thinking of restarting the project. There is an SP government in the state so I think the project won’t face any problem.”
Daulatpur is now finally happy to have a degree college, but they still hold grudges for Sr. Bachchan for not keeping his promise. There might be reasons for not keeping his promise, like his distance from Amit Singh and he himself being a victim of village politics. Even then, who was at lost? The villagers, the students within whom he brought a hope to study and become someone.