In the latest spar between the Cousins Thackeray - Raj and Uddhav - the beast that is politics in Maharashtra has lived up to its image. Raj, chief of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, clawed first, accusing the Shiv Sena's Uddhav of spending too much time on his pet obsession of photographing wild animals and less on the Mumbai potholes that have bared their fangs post-monsoon. Uddhav hit back, calling Raj a 'namak haram animal' because of the treacherous manner in which he breached Maharashtrian unity by forming his own party.
Given that the baiter and the baited are both seasoned political animals, one expects the trade in insults to gather meat with the passage of time. Unless, it suddenly dawns on both of them that descended as we are from simian ancestors, calling somebody an animal is not the best tool to reduce or humiliate. Political parties are routinely represented by animals (the elephant common for the Republicans in the US and the Bahujan Samaj Party in India); certain politicians like Lalu Prasad wear their love for animals all over their backyard, posing among cud-chewing bovines and bleating goats.
Similes that we use to describe our existence often borrow from life in the wild: you are only as sly as a fox or as wise as an owl. And when it is difficult to tell the truth, as George Orwell found, the pigs in the animal farm might be able to bail you out.