Barabanki, UP, Jan 27: Daulatpur village in this district of Uttar Pradesh today wore a festive look as the enitre Bachchan clan, along with top leaders of the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) reached here to lay the foundation stone of a girls' boarding school named after former Miss World and internationally acclaimed actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
Four helicopters, which took off from Lucknow, landed here around 1400 hrs at a makeshift helipad carrying the Bachchan family, the family of Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and UNPA leaders including N Chandra Babu Naidu, Om Prakash Cahutala and Farooq Abdullah.
After a brief 'pooja' by three pandits, all the VVIPs unveiled a plaque as a token of laying the foundation stone of Aishwarya Bachchan Balika Maha Vidyalaya (high school). During the 'pooja' Aishwarya, draped in a pink kanjivaram saree sat between hubby Abhishek and father-in-law Amitabh Bachchan.
One of Amar Singh's two daughters was seen siting in the laps of Abhishek during the function. Incidentally, today is the 52nd birthday of Mr Singh.
Though termed as an apolitical gathering, the event had its taste of politics as Mr Chautala referred to the recent victory of SP candidate in the Ballia Lok Sabha bypoll. ''Ballia has always shown the path of change...to end your miseries turn your cycles (SP's election symbol) towards Delhi,'' he said.
Addressing the gathering, the former Miss World said she was falling short of words to express her gratitude towards the people of Daulatpur. ''I kept on asking about the logic of naming the institution after me...I was told it was appropriate,'' she said.
Her mother-in-law and actress Jaya Bachchan explained it better by saying that the school was named after her as a mark of respect for the people of UP who love their daughters and respect their daughters-in-law.
She also asked Aishwarya to keep visiting the school to cross-check its progress. The school, being built on the banks of river Ghagra, will start is session from July, 2009 and would follow the UP Board as well as the CBSE patterns.
Since there was no girls' school in a 25 km radius, it would also impart vocational and employment oriented courses for the students in the coming years, said SP leader Jaya Prada, who heads the Nistha Foundation. The Foundation has arranged for funds to run and build the school.
Big B decided on opening a school in Barabanki after the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court gave a clean chit to him in a case pertaining to alleged fraudulent allotment of government land to him in Barabanki district, about 40 km from the state capital.
The ruling gave a much-needed relief to Bachchan after he was badly cornered in the land scam.
Absolving Bachchan of the criminal charges, the single-judge bench of Justice A N Verma had ruled that since the film star had already relinquished his claim over the land, all criminal proceedings against him be dropped.
Significantly, however, the court agreed that the fraudulently made entries in the land records be corrected and the land be restored to the gram sabha which originally owned the property.
Bachchan was charged with committing 'forgery' and 'fraud' in getting his name entered in the official revenue records as the legitimate allottee of some 2.75 bighas of land (about 70,000 sq ft) in Daulatpur village of Barabanki district.
The Faizabad divisional commissioner, where Bachchan had filed an appeal, had upheld Barabanki district magistrate's order of March 24, 2006. The commissioner had ruled that the 1993 Barabanki land transfer in Bachchan's name was illegal.
In June 2007, the commissioner had also ordered criminal proceedings to be initiated against the megastar.
Consequently, Bachchan had filed a writ petition before the high court, seeking relief from any criminal action.
The gram sabha counsel made a formal offer before the court that if Bachchan were to surrender his claim to the land in dispute, he would not press for criminal proceedings.