Sodepur Khadi Pratisthan is the witness of an historic meeting of Dr. Sayama Prasad Mukherjee with Mahatma Gandhi which was held on 13-5-1947 at Khadi Pratisthan with regard to the partition of India and Bengal before independence. The details of the meeting has been written in the book "My Days with Gandhi" by Shri Nirmal Kumar Bose who was Mahatma Gandhi’s secretary and companion during those crucial last years.
A very important interview took place between Syamaprasad Mookerjee and Gandhiji today. Syamaprasad Babu had heard that the scheme for United Sovereign Bengal had received Gandhiji's blessings, so he had come to ascertain the truth of the report. Gandhiji replied that he had not yet made up his mind about it but was trying to find out what the proposal really meant. Then he asked Syamaprasad Babu for his own opinion on the scheme. Syamaprasad Babu began by saying that although Mr. Suhrawardy was apparently its author, it was really being sponsored by British commercial interests in Bengal. If Bengal were partitioned, it would create serious difficulties for the jute industry, for the mills would be in West Bengal and the raw materials in another State. Moreover, he said that the Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, had personally asked him to give the proposal careful consideration. Gandhiji said, 'So your objection is on account of its parentage! No, I want you to criticize the scheme on merits.'
Then Syamaprasad Babu proceeded to say that although Mr. Suhradardy was now sponsoring the cause of a United Bengal, yet, once division had taken place, what was there to prevent this Bengal from seeking voluntary alliance with Pakistan? He could surely manipulate a decision of this kind by means of the majority of Muslim votes.
Gandhiji said, 'But has he not spoken of "mutual consent" between Hindus and Muslims in the formation of a separate Bengal?'
Syamaprasad Babu asked what difference that made so long as the majority of the Legislative Assembly were Muslims.
Gandhiji replied, 'But a decision by a simple numerical majority is not "mutual consent". I would interpret that term differently. It ought to mean that if a majority of Hindu members and a majority of Muslim members agree to form a separate sovereign State, then it comes into being by "mutual consent", not otherwise. That majority may be 51:49 or may be fixed at any other figure by mutual discussion before the agreement is entered into. And if Suhrawardy has to win the majority of the Hindu members of the Assembly over to his side, don't you see that the present communal situation in Bengal will be immediately changed for the better?'
Syamaprasad Babu said, 'But supposing Suhrawardy does succeed in winning over many Hindu members and a separate State is formed, then, one day, that State may federate itself with Pakistan if the decision is by majority of votes.'
Gandhiji said, 'No. Such a decision should also be by "mutual consent" as interpreted before separation from India.'
Syamaprasad Babu then asked what would happen if the majority of Hindu members wanted to federate with India and the majority of Muslim members with Pakistan.
Gandhiji said, 'Then there would be a partition of Bengal. But that partition will be brought about by mutual agreement of the people of Bengal and not by the British. It is a partition by the British which has to be prevented at any cost.'
Syamaprasad Babu then asked Gandhiji, 'But can you contemplate Bengal lying separated from the rest of India?'
Gandhiji replied with emotion, 'You ask me that question!'
Finally, Gandhiji said to Syamaprasad Babu that we should take Mr. Suhrawardy's new proposal at its face value, even if we may have no faith in him personally. Preservation of United Bengal in a United India should not be made the condition precedent in the present negotiation, that would defeat one's purpose. Having placed faith on the bonafide of Mr. Suhrawardy's proposal for a United Bengal, we should work out its logical implications. An admission that Bengali Hindus and Bengali Mussulmans were one would really be a severe blow against the two-nation theory of the League. If therefore Mr. Suhrawardy was prepared to accept the real meaning of the term 'mutual consent', then it would mean either the end of the League or of Mr. Suhrawardy.
Nearly a fortnight after Gandhiji returned to Patna, he wrote a letter to Sarat Chandra Bose on the same question and later on another from Hardwar which bears reproduction in this connection. Photographic copies of both these letters were published in Sarat Babu's paper 'The Nation' on the 11th of June 1949.