Rediff.com has launched the Rediff Sentimeter, an interactive map-based tool that predicts who could win the Gujarat assembly election 2012. The first phase of the Gujarat assembly elections will be held in on December 13, 2012 and second phase on December 17, 2012, while the counting will take place on December 20, 2012. The sentimeter can be accessed at rediff.ly/sentimeter.

The company claims that the sentimeter reveals that the Gujarat election result is not a certainty for any party, and while  the BJP has held a majority in the state since 1995, undecided voters in many constituencies could tilt the balance.

Features: The sentimeter is based on performance of each constituency in previous assembly elections in Gujarat. It gives the overall forecast for the state and divides the state into BJP strong region, BJP Tilt, Swing, INC Tilt and INC strong regions. It also considers delimitation of constituencies and takes into account the impact Keshubhai Patel’s Gujarat Parivartan Party will have on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) fortunes.

By default the sentimeter slider is set at Rediff’s forecast point. Users can move the sentimeter’s slider to the BJP or Congress side to see how a swing constituency to either side can change the outcome. Apart from that, users can also select constituencies where Rediff gives more information about the constituency by electorate distribution by community and results of the past elections. It also displays current contestants from each party standing in that particular constituency.

Optimized for mobiles: The sentimeter is also optimized for mobiles. We checked the site on our iPhone 4 and it provides all the features that are available on the desktop site.

What’s missing: 

The point of the sentimeter. We checked the sentimter by selecting various constituencies and moving the slider towards either party but couldn’t make sense of the application: We weren’t able to figure out what exactly the sentimeter does. As a layman user who visits the site, the tools provides no information on how to use it, and what the significant is, of changing the position of the slider in one direction or the other. There’s no indication of how relevant this tool is, given that it is based on results in the previous election.

The site does not provide any other information on the contestants apart from their name and the party they belong to. The site could probably aggregate more information on the contestant’s profile and news from Rediff’s portal, and integrate it with the tool.

We’ve written to Rediff on for a clarification on what exactly the tool does, and how it works. It’s good to see a publication use data, but if you’re not going to explain what the data does for you, beyond changing the colors of constituencies on a map, there really is no point.

Other developments:

Recently, Rajesh Jain backed online media company Niti Digital launched an elections data site called Indiavotes.com. Indiavotes has data on Lok Sabha (parliamentary) elections since 1952 and all state elections since 1977. There’s also MyNeta.info*, which provides information on various candidates.

Also read:
#GujaratVotes: BJP Promises State-Wide Wifi, Job Portal, Social Media Use For Policy

 *Disclosure: Nikhil Pahwa, the editor of this site, is related to Jagdeep Chokkar, one of the founders of the Association for Democratic Reforms, which runs MyNeta.info.