Harekrushna Mahatab

Harekrushna Mahatab (21 November 1899 – 2 January 1987) was the leader of the Indian National Congress, a notable figure in the Indian independence movement and the Chief Minister of Odisha from 1946 to 1950 and again from 1956 to 1961. He was popularly known by the sobriquet "Utkal Keshari".

Harekrushna Mahatab
ହରେକୃଷ୍ଣ ମହତାବ
Harekrushna Mahatab 2000 stamp of India.jpg
Mahatab on a 2000 stamp of India
1st Chief Minister of Odisha
In office
19 October 1956 – 25 February 1961
GovernorBhim Sen Sachar
Y. N. Sukthankar
Preceded byNabakrushna Choudhuri
Succeeded byBijayananda Pattanaik
In office
23 April 1946 – 12 May 1950
GovernorChandulal Madhavlal Trivedi
Kailash Nath Katju
Asaf Ali
Preceded byOffice Established
Succeeded byNabakrushna Choudhuri
Governor of Bombay
In office
2 March 1955 – 14 October 1956
Chief MinisterMorarji Desai
Preceded byGirija Shankar Bajpai
Succeeded bySri Prakasa
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
In office
Succeeded byNityanand Kanungo
ConstituencyCuttack, Odisha
In office
Preceded byBadakumar Pratap Gangadeb
Succeeded byD. N. Deb
ConstituencyDeogarh, Odisha
Minister of Industries and Supplies
In office
13 May 1950 – 26 December 1950
Preceded bySyama Prasad Mukherjee
Succeeded byVacant
Personal details
Harekrushna Mahatab

(1899-11-21)21 November 1899
Agarpada, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died2 January 1987(1987-01-02) (aged 87)
Political partyIndian National Congress
Orissa Jana Congress
Janata Party
Spouse(s)Subhadra Mahatab
ChildrenBhartruhari Mahtab
Alma materRavenshaw College
Writing career
LanguageOdia, English
PeriodColonial/Post Colonial India
GenreHistory,Biographies,Academic Theses
SubjectsIndian Politics, History
Notable worksGaon Majlis
Notable awardsSahitya Akademi Award
Years active1900-1987

Early lifeEdit

Harekrushna Mahtab was born at Agarpada village in Bhadrak district of Odisha. He was born to Krushna Charan Das and Tohapha Debi in an aristocratic Khandayat family.[1] After passing his matriculation examination from Bhadrak High School, he joined Ravenshaw College, Cuttack but left his studies in 1921 to join the independence movement.[2][3][4]

Political careerEdit

In 1922, he was imprisoned and charged of sedition. He was the Chairman of Balasore District Board from 1924 to 1928. He became the member of Bihar and Odisha Council in 1924. He joined the Salt Satyagraha movement and was imprisoned again in 1930. He was elected as the General Officer Commanding of Congress Sevadal for the AICC session at Puri in 1932 and he was arrested when the party was banned. He participated in the movement against untouchability in 1934 and opened his ancestral temple to all for the first time in Odisha. Later, he started Gandhi Karma Mandir at Agarpada. He was the President of Utkal Pradesh Congress Committee from 1930 to 1931 and again in 1937. He was nominated to the Congress Working Committee by Subhas Chandra Bose in 1938 and continued till 1946 and again from 1946 to 1950. He was the President of State Peoples' Enquiry Committee in 1938 and recommended cancellation of Sanada of the rulers and merger of the erstwhile princely states with Odisha Province. He participated in the Quit India Movement in 1942 and was imprisoned from 1942 to 1945.[5][6]

Mahatab was the first Chief Minister of Odisha from 23 April 1946 to 12 May 1950. He was the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry from 1950 to 1952. He became the secretary general of the Congress Parliamentary Party in 1952. He was the Governor of Bombay from 1955 to 1956.[6][7][8] After resigning from Governorship in 1956, he again became the Chief Minister of Odisha from 1956 to 1960. During his tenures as the Chief Minister, he played significant role in the merger and integration of former princely states, shifting of the capital from Cuttack to Bhubaneshwar and the sanction and construction of the multi-purpose Hirakud Dam Project. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1962 from Angul and became the vice-president of the Indian National Congress in 1966. In 1966, he resigned from the Congress and led the Orissa Jana Congress. He was elected to the Odisha Legislative Assembly in 1967, 1971 and 1974. He was imprisoned in 1976 for protesting against the emergency.[9]

Intellectual pursuitsEdit

He was the founder of the Prajatantra Prachar Samiti and started the weekly magazine Prajatantra in 1923 at Balasore, which later became the Daily Prajatantra. He was the chief editor of a monthly journal Jhankar since its inception. He also published the Weekly English paper The Eastern Times and was its chief editor.

He received the Sahitya Academy award in 1983 for the third volume of his well-known work, Gaon Majlis.[10]

Awards and honoursEdit

He was the President of Orissa Sahitya Academy and Sangit Natak Academy for a couple of terms. He received an honorary Doctorate degree from Andhra University, an honorary D.Litt. from Utkal University and an honorary Doctorate of Law from Sagar University.[11][12]
The Odisha State Central Library, the apex library of the state public library system of Odisha is named after him as Harekrushna Mahtab State Library. It was established in 1959 with 3 acre campus at state capital, Bhubaneswar.[13][14]


  1. ^ Bhaskar Roy (26 March 2004). "Khandayats moving into political gear in Orissa - Times of India". timesofindia.com.
  2. ^ Dr. Narayan Panda (30 November 2011). "Dr. Harekrushna Mahatab – A Curious Combination of Conspicuous Characteristics" (PDF). Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  3. ^ "ORISSA REFERENCE ANNUAL – 2009" (PDF). 16 June 2010. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  4. ^ "ALUMNI: Dr. Harekrushna Mahtab". docstoc.com. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  5. ^ "Harekrushna Mahatab – GandhiTopia". gandhitopia.org. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  6. ^ a b "~* Welcome to Bhadrak (Orissa) : The Official Website *~". bhadrak.nic.in. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  7. ^ Khrushchev, N.S.; Khrushchev, S. (2007). Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev. Pennsylvania State University. ISBN 9780271029351.
  8. ^ Mahtab, H. (1986). While Serving My Nation: Recollections of a Congress Man. Vidyapuri.
  9. ^ Chitkara, G. (2004). Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh: National Upsurge. A.P.H. Publishing Corporation. p. 289. ISBN 9788176484657.
  10. ^ "RECIPIENTS OF KENDRA SAHITYA ACADEMY AWARD FOR ODIA LITERATURE" (PDF). 6 September 2012. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  11. ^ Dr. Bhagabat Tripathy (6 January 2011). "Dr. Harekrushna Mahatab : A Versatile Genius" (PDF). Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  12. ^ FAKIR MOHAN SENAPATI (16 April 2011). "The Makers of Modern Orissa" (PDF). Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  13. ^ Welcome to Harekrushna Mahtab State Library. Hkmsl.gov.in. Retrieved on 26 November 2018.
  14. ^ Hada, K.S.; Bajpai, R. (2014). Integrated Indian Public Library System. Partridge Publishing India. p. 36. ISBN 978-1-4828-2163-5. Retrieved 19 March 2020.

External linksEdit

Government offices
Preceded by
Biswanath Das
Chief Minister of Odisha
23 April 1946 to 12 May 1950
Succeeded by
Nabakrushna Choudhuri
Preceded by
Girija Shankar Bajpai
Governor of Bombay
2 March 1955 to 14 October 1956
Succeeded by
Sri Prakasa
Preceded by
Nabakrushna Choudhuri
Chief Minister of Odisha
19 October 1956 to 25 February 1961
Succeeded by
Biju Pattanaik