Seated in a well lit room, surrounded by half-a-dozen followers, the senior most cleric of Dargah-e-Ala Hazrat, Subhan Raza Khan, talks about issues pertaining to the dargah. Politics is the last thing on his mind. “What do I say about it ?” he remarks, when asked about the recent change of guard in Uttar Pradesh. “People come and go, things change - sama aur siyasat dodno badlte rahte hain (environment and politics keep changing).”
The cleric holds the reign of the dargah, which many believe has a substantial level of influence on the politics of the region, apart from the religious affairs of course. However, while the dargah still remains one of the most revered sites for followers of Barelvi sect of Sunni Islam, questions have been raised about its weaking political clout over the years. The recent rout of Samajwadi Party and Congress - parties seen as close to the dargah - is being seen as a proof of the fact.
BJP, the “saffron party”, is now in power and has appointed Yogi Adityanath - its firebrand leader known for his religious rhetoric - at the helm as the chief minister.
While, Yogi’s appointment has surprised the clerics, they are hoping that the party will deliver what it promised to the people of the state.
“BJP got votes from every section of society for its agenda ‘Sabka sath, sabka vikas’. If the party has appointed Yogi Adityanath as the CM, he must work on this and take everyone along,” says Mufti Ghulam Mustafa Razvi, another cleric of the dargah. “I believe that he (Yogi) will ensure this in UP.”
Sharing this belief is Maulana Tauqeer Raza, a cleric-turned-politician. “People have chosen BJP because they wanted change in the governance of the state. I think this will be the biggest challenge for the new chief minister,” he says.
Taqueer launched his own party, ‘Ittehad- E-Millat Council’, in 2009, also fought the 2012 and the 2017 assembly elections. The party managed to win a seat in 2012 but failed to make any mark this time. “The motive behind forming a party was to work for everyone, which is what BJP has promised. Let us wait and watch - what do they do about it,” he adds.
Commenting on the rumours that Yogi will spearhead a campaign against triple talaq, the cleric asserts, “Triple talaq is not a political issue. It’s about the religious beliefs of a community. No one has the right to change it, nobody.”
Meanwhile, Subhan Raza refuses to respond to the question and says in a philosophical vein, “Kuch bhi ho, fasana wahi rehta hai (No matter what happens, the story remains the same).” With that he goes back to his followers.