With most parties pushing for a caste-based census, the government does not seem to be averse to such an exercise during the process to enumerate the country's populace that began recently.
Government sources said there is enough time to incorporate a section of caste in the census exercise whose second phase will begin in February next year.
The Registrar General of Census Operations, which conducts the census exercise in the country, is yet to print the papers relating to census and if, necessary, the clause of caste could be incorporated in it.
Some ministers had earlier said since the census exercise had already begun, enlisting caste data would be difficult this time.
A final view in this regard will be taken by the Union Cabinet, sources said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while responding to the demands by members in the Lok Sabha today, said the Cabinet will shortly take a decision on whether caste-based census should be undertaken or not.
"I am aware of the views of the members of Parliament belonging to all sections. I assure you that the Cabinet will take a decision shortly," Singh said in a brief statement without clearly saying whether the demands by parties would be accepted.
His remarks mollified agitated opposition members who had forced adjournment of the House earlier after Home Minister P Chidambaram virtually ruled out inclusion of caste in the exercise.
After the earlier adjournment, four prominent OBC leaders, including Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad, met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in a bid to persuade the government to go in for a caste-based census.
BJP deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde and JD-U chief Sharad Yadav were also present at the meeting so was Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Chidambaram.
If caste-based census is undertaken, it will be for the first time since 1931.
Sources said there are fears that verification of an individual's claim of his or her caste would be a difficult process and questions would be raised over its genuineness unless it is authenticated with some proper documents.
Besides, the whole caste-based census process will be a time-consuming exercise as analysis of caste of each and every citizen of the country's 1.2 billion population will take at least two years time while verification of their claim, to be done by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, will take at least three years.