Harekrushna Mahatab (1899-1987), a writer, historian, and socialist of repute, was born at Agarpada in Baleswar District
. He was deeply imbued with patriotic fervor from his school days and was longing to fight for the cause of the country. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi
, he left college to participate in the freedom struggle. He took part in the ‘Pada Yatra’ of Orissa in 1921 and was the organizer of the satyagraha in Baleswar District. He became the president and sampadak of Pradesh Congress Committee in 1929 and was later nominated by Subhash Chandra Bose as the member of National Congress Working Committee in 1939. For taking part in the Quit India Movement he was put under arrest from 1942-1945.
After the second Vidhan Sabha elections in 1946, Harekrushna Mahatab assumed office as the chief minister of Orissa and continued in the office till 1950. He also served as a cabinet minister in the ministry of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1950 and later became the governor of Maharashtra. Owing to the political crisis that hit Orissa in 1956, he resigned from the governorship of Maharastra and took charge as the chief minister of Orissa. He was also a member of the parliament from 1961 to 1967. After resigning from the Congress in 1973, he ended his political career. He was put behind the bars for protesting against the declaration of national emergency in 1975.
Harekrushna Mahatab had played an important role in the integration of states. Acclaimed as a writer and poet, his book ‘Gan Majlis’ is considered as a new step in the history of Oriya literature. Honored with doctorate degrees from the Andhra University, Utkal University and Sagar University, Mahatab spend his entire life for the uplift of the people of Orissa. Popularly known as Utkal Keshari, this eminent statesman died in 1987.