New Delhi: Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Uttar Pradesh’s erstwhile ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) may join hands to contest the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. The two parties have started backstage initial talks already.

Under the deal being negotiated, while BSP, headed by former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati, may focus on rural seats, AAP, led by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, may get to contest the urban seats.

AAP, after initial hesitation, recently announced its intentions of exploring its options of expanding beyond Delhi. Uttar Pradesh and Punjab have been identified as two potential states where it has chances of growing due to an existing base of volunteers and supporters.

BSP, on the other hand, wants to put its best foot forward to regain power in India’s most populous and politically crucial state after being voted out of power in 2012 state polls. Both parties failed to win even a single seat in the 2014 general elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Both AAP and BSP are opposed to alliances and prefer to chart out their political future independently. Thus, coming together of the two parties would require compromising on their known stands.

Under the deal being negotiated, AAP may get to contest one assembly seat in each of the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies of the state, and BSP will put up its candidates on the remaining seats in the 403-member state assembly.

While BSP with its roots in Uttar Pradesh will provide AAP with the much-needed clutches to stand on in the state, BSP is eyeing AAP’s committed vote bank of traders and Muslims.

No formal announcement in this regard is expected until the polls are formally announced. Under normal circumstances, state polls are due in Uttar Pradesh in early 2017. However, there are speculations that the state’s ruling Samajwadi Party may opt for early polls and prefer to hold it a year ahead of the schedule depending upon the outcome in October’s assembly elections in neighbouring Bihar.

The common factor between Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is that socialists are in power and are being challenged strongly by India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which virtually wiped them out in last year’s general elections in their own backyards.

An internal survey conducted on behalf of BJP suggests that while the party is headed to win a simple majority in Uttar Pradesh, the BSP-AAP combination may emerge as the second-largest political block by wining nearly 145 seats, pushing the Samajwadi Party to a poor third spot.

In the process, AAP may emerge as the biggest gainer as it could end up winning more than 50 seats with BSP’s backing — more seats compared to Samajwadi Party and the Congress party put together.