Harekrushna Mahtab was born on November 21, 1899 at Agarpara village in Bhadrak district. He was a great freedom fighter and politician. He was popularly known by the sobriquet Utkal Keshari. His parents were Krushna Chandra Das and Tohapha Devi. He passed his matriculation from Bhadrak High School and went to Ravenshaw College in Cuttack for higher studies. In 1921, he left his studies and joined the independence movement. He was imprisoned in the year 1922 due to his rebellion against British government. He joined the Salt Satyagraha movement and was elected as the General Officer Commanding of Congress Sevadal at Puri in 1932. He participated in movement to eradicate untouchability and opened up his ancestral temple for all. This was for the first time in Odisha’s history that all categories of people were allowed to the temple.
After independence, Harekrushna Mahtab became the Chief Minister of Odisha from 1946–1950 in his first term and again from 1956-1960 in his second term. He was a great intellect. He laid the foundation of Prajatantra Prachar Samiti and published a weekly magazine Prajatantra which later became the Daily Prajatantra. For his dedication in publications and literature, he received Sahitya Academy Award in 1983.