Guwahati: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday said the cultural relations of the Northeast with mainland India had existed since the days of Mahabharata.

It was temporarily affected during 'gulami' period but now the time has come to restore it and take it forward, Shah said without elaborating it.

He was addressing the 68th plenary session of North Eastern Council (NEC) here.

"In Mahabharata, Babruvahan or Ghatotkach were from the Northeast. Arjun had married Chitrangada in Manipur, Sri Krishna's grandson also got married in the Northeast."

"The cultural relations between the northeast and the country is not new. It was affected temporarily during the 'gulami' period... No question of the relations being severed... The time has now come to restore it and take it forward,” asserted Shah as he paid tributes to Bharat Ratna - awardee Dr Bhupen Hazarika on his birth anniversary.

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Shah, who is also the chairman of the NEC said, "Without taking along the culture, heritage and music of the Northeast, the question of the development of the rest of the country does not even arise."

Pointing out that the progress of the states cannot be achieved without the development of the interior areas, the Union minister urged the NEC to assign 30 percent of its

budget to develop infrastructure and give access to electricity and gas connections in such areas.

"Our aim is that by 2020, the eight states of the Northeastern region figure in the railway and air connectivity maps of the country,'' he added.

Shah said that the priority given to the Northeast by the BJP-led government in the last five years has transformed it from a place known for terrorism, border disputes, drugs, arms trafficking and corruption to an area witnessing rapid development and connectivity.

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Asserting that no Congress prime ministers had attended NEC meetings, he said, besides Morarji Desai, it was PM Modi who attended a NEC meeting at Shillong in 2018 as he wanted to develop the region on par with the rest of the country.

Official sources said during the two-day plenary session, DoNER, the NEC, the eight state governments and select central ministries will make presentations on various developmental issues critical to to the NE region.

Deliberations on the progress of ongoing projects, outlays by Central Ministries for the region and plans for the period beyond March 2020 are also expected to be taken up at the meeting, the sources said.