Dynastic politics is problematic across the nation. Of course, the Congress leads the pack by yielding to Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. In fact, their mother Sonia Gandhi herself said that she owed her position to the fact that she happened to be the widow of Rajiv Gandhi, who needless to say, became a political leader because of his mom, who was the Prime Minister. The chain doesn't end. Indira Gandhi too ended up in politics, thanks to her dad, who willingly groomed her when he was the Prime Minister.

But if there is a state where dynastic politics forms the DNA of the political culture, then it has to be Tamil Nadu. Here, leaders are not really chosen by the people. But the political system is a game that is actually 'played' by vested interests, who throw up hand-picked family members or close friends to become leaders.

How M Karunanidhi skewed the proceedings by foisting his sons, daughter and other relatives into his party as well as the government, is now part of the country's large chapters that speak volumes. 

But the situation in the DMK's rival camp, the AIADMK, is no better. MG Ramachandran (MGR), founder of the party, became the chief minister of the state, and after his demise, his wife Janaki immediately took over the mantle before J Jayalalithaa usurped it. Jaya was initiated into politics based solely on the fact that she was MGR's leading lady on screen.

And Jayalalithaa was enormously guilty of cultivating a diabolical confidante in Sasikala, whose relatives made a mockery of every laid-out rule and regulation in the state and elsewhere.

But with the death of Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, people had hoped that the bane of family politics would come to a grinding halt. However, they were mistaken. Things don't seem to have changed in both the AIADMK and the DMK as a good chunk of party tickets to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections has gone to sons and daughters of already established leaders.

The DMK, not surprisingly, is at the forefront when it comes to pushing family interests: Six out of its 20 contestants are the kith and kin of existing leaders. The DMK has brazened it out by allotting all the three constituencies in the state capital of Chennai to powerful progenies. 

Kalanidhi Veerasami, the Chennai North candidate, is a doctor and the son of former minister Arcot N Veerasami.  Dayanidhi Maran, the Chennai Central contestant, is, of course the son of former Union minister Murasoli Maran, who was the nephew of Karunanidhi. Dayanidhi Maran has got the ticket despite the fact that he is one of those politicians in the country, who has the corruption taint. The Chennai South constituency has gone to Tamizhachi Thangapandian, who is the daughter of former minister Thangapandian.

The other high profile family politician is Kanimozhi, Karunanidhi's daughter. She has been fielded in Thoothukudi. 

Also in the fray are: Foormer state minister Ponmudi's son Gautham Sigamani in Kallakurichi and former minister and Karunanidhi's close associate Durai Murugan's son Kathir Anand  in Vellore.

"This is a shameful list," said Ambika Rajesh, a professor. "It is dominated by the family members of top politicians. There is no difference between dynastic privilege and caste privilege," she added.

Sukanya Kumar, a women's activist, is livid with the DMK's claim that it has fielded two women candidates. "It is a misleading point. The two women --- Kanimozhi and Tamizhachi --- are there in the list not because they are women. They have made the cut because they are daughters of top netas."

Six out of twenty make it clear that the DMK has not changed its old, disturbing ways. "But when the party president, MK Stalin, himself owes his position to the fact that he was the previous president's son, how can you expect the party to mend its approach?" added Sukanya.

On the other hand, the scenario in the AIADMK is also not encouraging.  Deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam's son P Ravindra Nath Kumar is its Theni candidate. The party's contestant from Madurai  VVVR Rajasathyan is the son of former mayor VV Rajan Chellappa. The Chennai South candidate Jayavardhan is minister D Jayakumar's son and Tirunelveli contestant PH Manoj Pandian is the son of former Speaker PH Pandian.

And in the PMK, party chief Ramadoss's son Anbumani Ramadoss, the former Union minister, is standing from Dharmapuri. That is not all. The PMK has been promised a Rajya Sabha ticket by the alliance partners BJP and the AIADMK. And this is expected to go to Anbumani's wife Sowmiya Ramadoss.

"Fifty years ago, it was Karunanidhi. Now, it is down to his son and daughter. The AIADMK too is home to just Jayalalithaa's legatees. It is a shame for the state that otherwise prides itself to be 'forward'," said a political journalist in Chennai, adding, "What I am surprised at is the fact that the cadres of these parties generally see this as a normative procedure. They don't protest parties being run as family business." 

Stalin has dismissed talks of nepotism in the process of candidates selection. "We have selected well-qualified and deserving candidates, who could win the election," he said.

In the AIADMK, Panneerselvam said, "We have picked deserving candidates. Everyone in our list has worked for the party. This is Amma's party and there is no place for family politics."

But what else could we have expected from Stalin and Panneerselvam, who themselves are there where they are, thanks only to their family and connections.