A caste-based census now appears a certainty. The matter was discussed on Monday at the meeting of the Congress Core Group, which includes Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
With the government coming under pressure from supporters of a caste headcount, the meeting reportedly decided to go by the majority opinion, which favoured such a step.
The section on caste is likely to be included in the census at the stage when biometric identification is carried out.
Pressure mounted on the government with the main Opposition party, the BJP, too conveying to the Group of Ministers headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, which was considering the issue, that it favoured caste census.
The BJP's support for a caste count came despite differences within the party over the issue and the RSS's opposition to the move.
"With the BJP also supporting it, we will also have to go along," said a senior Congress leader.
On Monday, Mukherjee told reporters that he will soon convene a meeting of the GoM as he has received responses "from almost all parties."
Officially, the Congress hasn't yet given its response to the GoM - which had been sought by August 7. But then, as Mukherjee claims, he is a member of the Congress too. Without explicitly saying so, he indicated he would be articulating the party's view at the GoM.
Congress ministers have been divided on the issue.
The supporters of caste census include AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh and Law Minister M Veerappa Moily.
Among the opponents are ministers like Kapil Sibal and Anand Sharma.
Home Minister P Chidambaram too is said to be on the view that the census isn't exactly the right vehicle for such a headcount.
Parties like the Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Janata Dal (United) are strong advocates of caste-based census.