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Salam alaikum, 

The second of Muharram. Please watch this clip:

Imam Hussain (AS) wanted sincere eye witnesses to tell people after his martyrdom what really happened in Karbala keeping in mind the falsehood which Yazeed and his gang were intending to spread among Muslims against Imam Hussain (AS). Mo'awiyah, father of Yazeed, spread rumors among people in Syria that Ali does not pray Namaz, that is why when the news reached Shaam that Imam Ali (AS) was martyred inside the Masjid of Kufa, people of Shaam started asking: What Ali was doing in the Masjid when he does not pray Namaz?

Yazeed and his gang wanted to fabricate stories against Imam Hussain (AS) to mislead people away from Ahlul Bayt (AS). Imam Hussain (AS) took his family members with him knowing what will happen to him and them, to make them witness and convey the message to all Muslims after him.

The great rule of Lady Zainab and Lady Um Kolthoum after Karbala shows how it was necessary to have eye witnesses to inform Muslim generations and refute the false propaganda of Yazeed.

The sufferings of the family of Imam Hussain (AS) was mentioned by him as narrated when he replied those who asked him why to take his family members: Allah has ordained to see me martyred and see my family members captured شاء الله أن يراني قتيلا ويراهنّ سبايا

Wassalam.

The above answer is very accurate.

However, I would like to add that the idea of separation between religion and politics is quite new and really only emerged with the notion of separation of church and the modern nation-state.

During the time of the Prophet (S), especially after the formation of the Muslim community in Medina, the Prophet handled matters that today would be considered both "religious" (like acts of worship) and "political" (like laws and the military).

This continued to be the situation during the early caliphates and early Arab-Muslim empires as well as the times of the Shi'i Imams; for instance, Imam 'Ali  (A) being formally appointed as the caliph and the treaty of Imam Hasan (A). That is to say, their role as religious leaders also involved political matters. Conversely, political leaders such as those who took on the caliphate also saw themselves as leaders of Islam. 

One can say a similar thing for many other pre-modern empires as well, which were not led by Muslims. 

So for that reason it is not really correct to divide the Battle of Karbala into "religious" or "political" since it involved both. There were clearly matters that today would be considered "political" such as succession (that is, it was not a battle over theology) while at the same time, as the previous response emphasized, it was not a ploy for power or this sort of thing. From the accounts of the Battle of Karbala, it is clear that matters both religious and political were discussed between both sides prior to the outbreak of fighting.

Rather one can say it was a religious objection to the use and assignment of political power, and a political response to it (military attack). 

Battle of Karbala was never political but it was purely religious to save the religion Islam from the corruption of Bani Umayyad. Imam Hussain (AS) did not aim to gain a post or rule or a political position, but wanted to make Muslims aware the real Islam of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his Ahlul Bayt (AS) must be followed, not the corrupt rulers like Yazeed and his gang, that is why, he repeatedly declared right from Madina to Makka to Karbala that he is going to be martyred in Karbala to save the religion of Islam as there was no other option to save Islam at all but only through his martyrdom.

Wassalam.