The ‘new urban politics’ literature highlights local entrepreneurialism as the basis of neo-liberal urbanism; this article adds to this literature by demonstrating how entrepreneurial neo-liberalism and ethno-religiosity are inflected in governance. Two concepts are proposed: ‘governance as performed’ (practice of ethno-religious entrepreneurialism) and ‘governance as inscribed’ (documenting policy through scientific planning). The dialectical interplay between ‘performance’ and ‘inscription’ defines the terrain of ‘new urban governance’ in its global/local entirety. Using examples from Ahmedabad city, India, this paper explicates how ‘governance as performed’ and ‘governance as inscribed’, produce dual narratives of the ‘lived’ and the ‘inscribed’ city. The narrative of abstract and objective Ahmedabad inscribed in planning documents directly contradicts the ‘grubby practices’ of entrepreneurial, ethno-religious neo-liberalism performed in the city. By simultaneously analysing both narratives, this article proposes to demystify the contexts of exclusion, thus exposing injustice embedded in ‘new urban politics’.