The Election Commission on Wednesday froze the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s party symbol, the two leaves. The decision comes ahead of the by-election to Tamil Nadu’s RK Nagar constituency, which has been vacant since former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s death.

In its interim order, the polling monitor has barred both the O Panneerselvam camp and the VK Sasikala faction of the party from referring to themselves as the AIADMK and using the party symbol. “Both groups shall be known by such names as they may choose,” the commission said, adding that they will be allotted a symbol from the EC’s list of free party symbols for use in the by-poll.

The O Panneerselvam AIADMK camp had claimed last week that since VK Sasikala’s appointment as party general secretary was “invalid and illegal”, the party symbol – the two leaves – belonged to them. Sasikala’s supporters had filed a petition before the commission on Tuesday staking claim on the symbol.

The Election Commission came to decision keeping in mind that candidates had till Thursday to file their nomination to contest for the by-election. It pointed out the “practical difficulties” in examining nearly 20,000 pages submitted by both camps as their affidavits. It said their decision was aimed at placing the “rival groups on even keel to protect their rights and interests”.

Representatives of both factions had met Chief Election Commissioner Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi on Wednesday. Advocate CS Vaidyanathan represented the Panneerselvam group, and lawyers Salman Khurshid and Mohan Parasaran fought for the Sasikala camp.

Former Chief Minister Panneerselvam had also demanded Sasikala’s appointment as the AIADMK general secretary to be scrapped. However, the commission has decided to take a call only on the party symbol for now.

The by-poll will be held on April 12, and the results will be out on April 17. Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar had said she will contest for the seat, and Sasikala’s nephew TTK Dinakaran was fielded for the constituency by her faction of the AIADMK.