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HAREKRUSHNA MAHATAB

........................Harekrushna Mahatab took birth in a small ‘vaishya’ family in Agarpada of Balasore district. After completing his matric from Bhadrakh High School he joined in BA in Revenshaw College. He left BA in 1921 and took part in the struggle for freedom. After that he took active part in politics and in serving for the country. He took part in ‘Pada Yatra’ of Orissa in 1921, which was started by Mahatma Gandhi. He became the Sampadak of Balasore district congress committee in 1921. He became the President of Balasore district board in 1924. He was the President and Sampadak of Pradesh Congress Committee in 1929 and remained in the post for many times. When Subhas Chandra Bose was the president of congress he was the first person from Orissa to be the member of Congress working committee. Since he took part in active politics he always used to hold high post in congress party of the state and center. He took part in “Quit India Movement” in 1942 and was sent to jail from 1942 to 1945.

........................In 1946 second election for the Vidhan Sabha was held. Out of 60 seats congress won 40 seats. He became the Chief Minister of Orissa from 23-04-1946 to 12-05-1950 and congress party was the ruling party during this period. After India got its independence he was the first Chief Minister of Orissa. In 1950 he became the cabinet minister of Industry & Commerce during the ministry of Jawahar Lal Nehru. After him Nabakrushna Choudhry became the Chief Minister of Orissa. In 1952 for the first time general election in all the states and center was held as per the traditional voting rights system. During that period Jawahar Lal Nehru did not include him in his ministry. Mahatab became the Secretary of congress parliament from 1952 to 1954. He became the Governor of Bombay in 1955. After Nabakrushna Choudhry resigned from Orissa Chief Minister post the political situation became unstable in Orissa. During that period Mahatab resigned from the service of Governor of Bombay and came back to Orissa to stabilize the political state of Orissa. He became the Chief Minister of Orissa once again in 19-10-1956. In the second general election held in 1957 congress did not attain full majority in Orissa. Congress could manage to win 56 seats and the Democratic Party won 51 out of 140. He formed his ministry by the support of some independent candidates and Jharkhand party. But his ministry did not last long. So in 20-05-1959 he formed a coalition government by the support of Democratic Party and became the Chief Minister. Rajendra Narayan Singh became the Deputy Chief Minister. This coalition government lasted till 24-02-1961. After that although he indirectly influenced the Orissa politics he did not come to power. There was Presidents rule in Orissa for some time and then Biju Patnaik became the Chief Minister on 23-06-1961. Mahatab was the member of the parliament from 1961 to 1967. He left congress in 1967 and formed another new party Peoples Congress. He was the Chief Minister of coalition ministry of Peoples Congress and Independent party. This was the first non-congress rule in Orissa. Again in 1971 Mahatab joined the congress and was elected as the leader of opposition in the Vidhan Sabha. He resigned from the congress in 1973 and ended his carrier as politician. He went jail in 1975 during the National Emergency.

........................After Indian independence there were about 500 odd states in India. Mahatab played an important lead role in uniting these states into bigger ones for which his name shall be written in golden words in the Indian history forever. This was started from Nilagiri province of Orissa. To maintain the law and order in the province of Nilagiri, Mahatab took the permission from Indian government on 14-11-1947 and Orissa ruled over Nilagiri. This was the first province to get united under the state in all over India. After this incident Sardar Patel signed an agreement on 14th and 15th December 1947 when 25 such provinces were united and brought under the rule of Orissa. After this the path opened for the other provinces to get united similarly. This was an excellent example of Mahatab’s experience in politics and his diplomacy. He played an important role in this union of provinces into bigger states. His other works includes shifting of capital of Orissa from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar, plan for the building of Hirakud dam and plan for power generation at Duduma waterfall. He also owes credit in establishment of Orissa high court, inauguration of wireless center at Cuttack, establishing Utkal University at Bhubaneswar, establishment of steel plant at Rourkela etc He has also contributed a lot to the field of literature and journalism. He has written many fruitful books in English and Oriya that includes history, novels, stories and poems. His book ‘Gan Majlis’ is a new step in the history of Oriya literature. He started “Prajatantra” from 1923 as a weekly magazine. Now this is one of important daily newspapers existing in Orissa. He also started a magazine “Jhankar” in Oriya literature and another children’s magazine “Minabajar”. He also started a function on literature, which was held every year and hosted by Prajatantra. He was honoured doctorate degree from the Andhra University, Utkal University and Sagar University. The Kendriya Sahitya Academy also awarded him. He was associated with many institutions. He had visited many countries like England, America, France, Japan, and Africa. For around five decades he played an important role in the politics of Orissa. He was well versed and had gained expertise in politics and diplomacy. He left behind many eminent personalities of Orissa in the field of politics and was able to reach to a respectable position. But 18-05-1947 was a dark day in his political career where he had to loose from the leaders of the center when ‘Kharasuan’ and ‘Sareikala’ was taken away from Orissa and was mixed in the state of Bihar. He was a freedom fighter, socialist, educator, philosopher, historian, writer, editor, administrator and a famous leader. He is popularly known as “Utkal Keshari”.


Dated : 4/27/02

 



HAREKRUSHNA MAHATAB
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